Compo Beach lighthouse view (Photo/Pam Docters)
Compo Beach lighthouse view (Photo/Pam Docters)
That “For Lease” sign was for real.
Patagonia’s last day of business is December 24.
A sign on the door of the clothing and outdoor gear retailer smack in the middle of downtown says: “Thank you, Westport, for letting us be a part of the neighborhood for the last 18 years. It’s been an honor to call this community home.”
Patagonia products can still be found at their wholesale partner, ASF Sports & Outdoors.
Meanwhile, we could make the snarky remark that the valuable property could be replaced by a bank.
Except that’s what it was, for its first 8 or so decades of existence. (Hat tip: Sal Liccione)
Only 23 shopping days until it’s “Pata-gone-ia.”
Looking for a good read (or holiday gift)?
Westport’s own Jo Ann Miller and Carl Addison Swanson’s “A Marathon of Changes” was called “a very interesting and motivating book for the new year,” by BookList.
Jo Ann — daughter of famed fighter pilot Thomas H. Miller. and goddaughter of astronaut John Glenn (who wrote the foreward) — grew up amid constant change, and in the shadow of the Marine Corps.
After emerging as a beautiful young career woman, the stress of work and life took its toll on her personality as well as her body. Faced with obesity, draining work demands and horrid tragic events in her past, she decided to change her life.
The culmination was the 2006 Marine Corps Marathon. The book follows her through each mile, as she reflects on the demands of the race as well as the remembrances of her past.
The book deals with the loneliness of obesity, the challenge of gastric bypass surgery, the tragedy of life and death, the intimate anger of rape, and finally the joy of financial freedom and newfound love. Click here to purchase.
The death yesterday of Sandra Day O’Connor brought tributes to the first female Supreme Court justice from around the country.
Westporter Howard Matson remembered a dinner he hosted for her 9 years ago, at New York’s Union League Club.
“She was very gracious,” he told “06880.”
“She spoke at length about her years after leaving the Supreme Court. Her favorite project was a curriculum developed to teach civics online to students. Justice O’Connor felt that there was a profound lack of understanding of the American government structure.”
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Howard Matson.
Before you know it, Christmas will be here.
And the kids will be out of school.
MoCA Westport can help!
Their winter recess Art Camp for Kids runs December 18-22 and 26-29.
Morning sessions (9;30 to 11:30 a.m.) are for nursery schoolers and kindergartners. Participants must be “fully potty trained.”
Full-day sessions (9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) are for kindergartners through 2nd graders.
One of the first compelling events of the new year is January 10.
Chabad of Westport sponsors an evening of hope and inspiration (7:30 p.m.). Esther Basch — the Honey Girl of Auschwitz — will tell her gripping story of survival and resilience. At 95, she is one of the world’s few remaining Auschwitz survivors.
Esther was transported to the death camp on her 16th birthday in a cattle car. she later faced a death march to the Salzwedel concentration Camp, where she was liberated by American soldiers in April 1945.
Despite the horrors she experienced, Esther’s unshakable faith and universal love for humankind helped her survive, then motivated her to share her story globally.
The event is part of Chabad’s new “Critical Conversation Series,” addressing contemporary Jewish and timely issues.
No, it’s not a decoy.
Johanna Keyser Rossi spotted today’s “Westport … Naturally” star — a hooded merganser — on Thursday, during her Saugatuck River walk:
(Photo/Johanna Keyser Rossi)
And finally … On this date in 1942, a Manhattan Project team led by Enrico Fermi initiated the first artificial self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction.
(Only 23 shopping days left at Patagonia. But you can make a donation to “06880′ any time. Just click here. Thank you!)
The weather looks great for today’s big, family-friendly and fun event: the “06880”/Westport Downtown Association Holiday Stroll.
Temperatures will be in the low 50s — with not a raindrop in sight — for tonight’s 5 to 7 p.m. event.
Up and down Main Street, and on Church Lane, Sconset Square and the Post Road, carolers will sing, 60 merchants and restaurants will offer freebies and deals, and everyone will enjoy a traditional, community-wide and very holiday-esque time (complete with “strolling” carolers).
At Stroll “headquarters” — in front of Savvy + Grace, in between Brandy Melville and Cold Fusion — kids can visit with Santa. They’ll meet costumed characters, jump into a photo booth, and be entertained by Staples High’s elite Orphenians.
Youngsters can drop off letters to Santa too (he’ll personally answer each one, with a self-addressed, stamped envelope).
Here’s the latest list of the 60 stores, restaurants and more who will hand out goodies, offer discounts, or find other creative ways to welcome Strollers.
The Holiday Stroll includes vendor booths too, including Tend, Stretch Zone, SugarKrisp and Westport is the Bestport. Non-profit booths like Homes with Hope and MOSS will also be in attendance. Sponsors David Adams Realty and SCA Crowley make it all possible.
See you from 5 to 7 p.m. tonight at the “06880”/Westport Downtown Association Holiday Stroll.
Santa hats and ugly sweaters are optional.
The Staples High School Orphenians are a huge attraction at the Holiday Stroll.
Welcome to our first December online art gallery of the year.
We’ve got interesting new mediums, like collage and embroidery. But where are all our holiday submissions?
Come on, guys — it’s the most wonderful time of the year, right?!
As always, we welcome all kinds of art. Watercolors, oils, charcoal, pen-and-ink, acrylics, lithographs, collages, macramé, jewelry, sculpture, decoupage, needlepoint — whatever you’ve got.
Email it to email@example.com. Share your work with the world! (PS: Please include the medium you’re working in — art lovers want to know.)
Age, level of experience, subject matter — there are no restrictions. Everyone is invited to contribute.
“What the World Needs Now is Love, Sweet Love” (Steve Stein)
“OK, What Came First?” (Ken Runkel)
“Kawa Ni” — pastel (Werner Liepolt)
Untitled — collage (Maj Kalfus)
“Counted Cross Stitch” (Alicia Kronick)
“I Remember” (Tom Doran)
Untitled — oil on canvas (Greg Puhy)
“Choppy Water and Herreshoff Ketch” (Peter Barlow)
“Thanks for Being My Dinner!” Photographer Mike Hibbard says, “The queen lioness takes down the prey and eats first. The rest of the pride keep their distance and eat when the queen goes to the river to drink. Jackals, hyenas and buzzards take their turns — carefully.”
“In Recovery” (Lawrence Weisman)
“Naturally, It’s Getting Chilly” (Jerry Kuyper)
“Black Bird” — black and white reflection photography (Patricia McMahon)
(Entrance is free to our online art gallery. But please consider a donation! Just click here — and thank you!)
A reader writes: “I have a Tesla. I only take an EV parking spot when I want to charge. That’s the whole idea of the special sign.
“Today I was downtown, in the Baldwin lot. There are 10 or so spots reserved for EV owners to charge.
Baldwin parking lot sign.
“As I was setting up the charge for my car, a car with 4 women pulled in nearby, parked, and simply walked away.
“I don’t think their car was even electric. It was merely a great spot to park.
Not a charging vehicle.
“I was horrified. I was with my children, and told them I believe this woman was morally wrong for hogging a charging spot when she wasn’t even planning to use it.”
Readers: What do you think? Are the signs for EVs merely suggestions? Are they okay to park in if you do have an electric vehicle, but are not actually charging? Click “Comments” below.
(“06880” is your place for community conversations. If you value our work, please click here to make a tax-deductible contribution. Thank you!)
William F. Cribari Bridge holiday lights (Photo/Tracy Porosoff)
Two prominent Westporters — former State Representative Ken Bernhard, and attorney Larry Weisman — have followed the Long Lots Elementary School building project with interest.
Today they delivered a letter to the Planning & Zoning Commission, with copies to the Board of Finance, Board of Selectwomen, and RTM moderator.
In it, they ask the P&Z to treat 2 components of the project — the school building itself, and the baseball field that may replace the current Westport Community Gardens — as separate issues, rather than one.
The letter has been signed by nearly 200 residents. They include Democrats, Republicans, and former members of bodies like the Board of Education, Board of Finance and RTM.
The letter says:
Dear Planning and Zoning Commissioners,
With respect to the administration’s decision to replace the Community Gardens with a Babe Ruth-sized playing field, many in town feel that good governance and fair play have not received their due.
Advocates for additional playing fields, including the administration and its handpicked committee, have prevailed notwithstanding complaints by other legitimate stakeholders that the process was flawed on multiple levels.
Even requests for a second look by the Public Site & Building Commission (designated by the Town Charter as the “school building committee”) have been denied, despite the obvious value of review at no cost to the town by an independent body with expertise and experience in construction and development of similar projects.
The Long Lots School Project has two distinct and independent components: 1. demolition and reconstruction of the school, and 2. construction of a playing field on the adjacent town-owned property now occupied by the Community Gardens.
Letter writers say that the construction of a new Long Lots Elementary School …
The matter will soon come before the Planning & Zoning Commission upon the request of the administration for a single 8-24 review, on the mistaken assumption that the two parts should or must be treated as one even though they involve two separate and distinct uses on two separate pieces of land.
We believe that it is a mistake to treat the two components as one because the P&Z can only either approve or disapprove an 8-24 request; it cannot modify the submission or impose conditions upon its implementation.
… is a discussion separate from the future of the Westport Community Gardens.
The effect of treating these disparate uses on unrelated sites as one is to limit the ability of the P&Z to evaluate each of the components of this project on its own merits and perhaps to approve of one while disapproving of the other.
Furthermore, after reviewing the relevant documentation, several qualified observers with considerable expertise and real-world construction experience firmly believe that there is adequate land on the school site to accommodate both a new school, (including staging and storage during construction), and a playing field without encroaching upon the adjacent site occupied by the gardens. To date however, those opinions have not been heard because those holding them have not been afforded an opportunity for meaningful participation in the decision-making process.
In view of the aforesaid, we respectfully request that the P&Z either encourage the administration to submit two 8-24 requests acknowledging the separate components of the project or, failing that, that it issues a negative 8-24 report on a submission that combines the two severable components.
Ken Bernhard, Larry Weisman
Ken Wirfel Elle Lowenstein Sybil Steinberg
Bob Jacobs Mimi Greenlee Dave Matlow
Dede McDowell Mike Guthman Jo Ann Davidson
Lucy Johnson Sandra Urist Diane Wildman
Rick Benson Jane Jessup Mike Szeto
Nancy Vener Janine Scotti Pietro Scotti
Andrew Coleman Relly Coleman Jeff Nevill
Yulee Aronson Mary-Lou Weisman John Paul
Lynn Paul Valerie Szeto Sam Levenson
Don Bergman Carolanne Curry Diane Bosch
Eric Bosch Bill Klein Idalia Rodriquez
Larry Kleinman Kate McGarvey Jean-Pierre Montillier
Brian McGarvey Phil Glick Sara Glick
James Mather Jesse Harte James Brown
Dalma Heyn Shelia Smith Mary-Claire Grosgogeat
Mark Steckel Ellen Winnick Willian Anderson
Linda Mak Chin Ethan Chin Edward Chin
Sally Kleinman Allegra Gottizemel Elizabeth Duvall
Lee Wrubel David Meth Linda Pryele
Mathew Sagal Linda Kowalsky Morgaine Pauker
William Berson Gene Byrne Art Gang
Debra Smolka Ed Smolka Jane Jacobs
Emily Jacobs Gavin Broady Chuck Greenlee
Lori Meinke Theresa Roth Eric Friedland
Ann Matlow Sari Bodi Deborah Press
Michael Press Eleanor Spangler Douglas Spangler
Susie Anderson Irmgard Gwilliam Al Gwilliam
Lori Hammer Pamela Davis Jeff Gershowitz
Will Hamilton Marc Fischer Jean Pierre Montillier
Sara Montillier Sara Montillier Maura Keenan
Peter Keenan Patricia Boyle Edward Boyle
Alec Head George Waterman Mary Sue Waterman
Benjamin Head Marguerite Webb Phyllis Freeman
Joseph Wiles Michelle Wiles Joyce Barnhart
Nancy Gentile Andrew Gentile Amy Unikewicz
Leslie Meredith Chris Grimm Miriam Roth
Julie Cook Peter Cook Alison Freeland
Ellie Tsurdinis Margaret Freeland Tim Simons
Kataryna Parciak Christopher Clanton Ester Clanton
Orly Angerthal Julie O’Grady Martin O’Grady
Liam O’Grady Terrie Langer Chris Singer
Steven Chin Pam Barkentin Marjorie Donalds
Lous Weinberg Cris Haggerty Erin Loranger
Laureen Haynes Melody Ware Paddy Duecy
Pat Duecy Mickael Beebe Netta Levy
Sally Kleinman Jacque Masumian Monique Nebelung
Greg Rosen Jeff Schorer Edward Saenz
Karen La Costa Zuzana Daure Eric Daure
Susan Poretta Peter Swift Leslie Gransberry
Kathleen Kiley Cynthia Mindell-Wong Martha Corneck
Hayes Clark Clare Clark Laura Schwartz
Josh Schwartz Phillip Schemel Alexander Jinishian
Megan Will Tim Cook
Nancy Lewis Greg Wolfe Mayann Alley
Yun Mai Lewis Bellardo Julietta Bellardo
Joe Mackiewicz Kim Mackiewicz Nancy Sinclaire
Glen Hodes Kathleen Wauchope
Sure, traffic is bad now.
But that’s not exactly a new complaint.
Consider this photo from nearly a century ago.
A line of cars heads down the Post Road — or, as it was called then, State Street — past Westport Bank & Trust (now Patagonia) and the YMCA (now Anthropologie).
Only a couple of parking spots were free by the Y. All were taken on the other side of the street.
A few years later, this was the scene looking the other way.
Sure, it looks like there is not much traffic. But all those cars on the left, in front of Town Hall (now Don Memo) were parked. There must not have been a lot of room to pass by.
And those were some seriously big vehicles.
What stands out to you in these photos? Click “Comments” below.
50 Years Ago This Week:
The Westport News reported that 1st Selectman (as she was called) Jacqueline Heneage rode her bike to work. She thought “at this time of the energy crisis” that she could set an example.
It was not a far ride. Heneage lived on Compo Road South, close to the Post Road.
(Whether 50 years ago or today, “06880” covers all things Westport. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)
Maria Vailakis-Wippick needs a kidney.
The former Staples High and Long Lots Elementary School staff member, kids’ and adults’ yoga teacher and meditation leader (at schools, the Senior Center, YMCA and Christ & Holy Trinity Church), and longtime Westport resident, is just 63 years old, and in excellent health otherwise.
Her family has a history of chronic kidney disease. Her son and daughter are not eligible to donate, because they’re at risk of the disease. Her siblings have compromised kidneys too.
A kidney from a living donor has a much higher success rate than waiting 5 to 7 years for a deceased donor kidney. At 15% function, and stage 5 kidney failure, she would have to go on dialysis before one would become available. She watched her father suffer through that.
Testing is easy. It involves an EKG, bloodwork, stress test and colonoscopy.
Even if you don’t match with Maria, your donation starts an exchange program. She could get another matching kidney, from someone who donated on another person’s behalf.
Call Yale New Haven Hospital (866-925-3897, option 1) to find out more about donation. Give Maria’s name as the recipient.
This one snuck up on us: Tonight (Friday, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.) is the annual Wakeman Town Farm holiday tree lighting.
In addition to the lights, there are home-baked cookies, treats and hot chocolate from The Porch and Sweet P Bakery — plus a bonfire, and local musicians.
1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Bill Constantino — a Wakeman family member — do the lighting honors.
The 2021 Wakeman Town Farm tree. (Photo/Dan Woog
Don’t forget: Tomorrow (Saturday) is the day for the “06880”/Westport Downtown Association Holiday Stroll! Its’ 5 to 7 p.m., up and down Main Street, plus Church Street and the Post Road.
It’s a great, family- and kids-friendly way to ring in December.
The Holiday Stroll is very family friendly. There’s a visit from Santa, costumed characters, a photo booth, holiday music from the Orphenians, caroling (beginning at Sconset Square) and more. Youngsters can drop off letters to Santa too (he’ll personally answer each one, with a self-addressed envelope).
Meanwhile, another 8 merchants have signed on. That brings the total to a whopping 60 stores, restaurants and more who will hand out goodies, offer discounts, or find other creative ways to welcome Strollers.
New additions include Cloud Nine Designers, Cold Fusion Gelato, Courtgirl, Club Sweat, Middlemarch, Moxie Salon & Beauty, Penfield Collective, and State & Liberty Clothing.
Here are the treats:
There will be vendor booths too, including Tend, Stretch Zone, SugarKrisp and Westport is the Bestport. Non-profit booths like Homes with Hope and MOSS will also be in attendance. Sponsors David Adams Realty and SCA Crowley make it all possible.
A serious Santa conversation, at last year’s Stroll. (Photo/Dan Woog)
Speaking of the holidays:
Stew Leonard’s community menorah lighting celebration is next Thursday (December 7, 5 p.m.).
It’s the 32nd annual family-friendly event for “the world’s largest dairy store,” which began life as a Clover Farms milk vending machine in Saugatuck.
Rabbi Yehoshua Hecht of Beth Israel Chabad will light an 18-foot menorah, followed by live music, holiday songs and pre-packaged kosher refreshments. Hot potato latkes, dreidels and chocolate gelt will be distributed to all.
Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling and Westport dignitaries will be on hand for Fairfield County’s largest menorah lighting. .
Speaking still of the holidays: Westport Country Playhouse is a collection site for Norwalk Toys for Tots and Westport Homes with Hope food pantry during its December lineup of shows, including “The Lightning Thief” on December 2, the “Warrior Class,” Script in Hand play reading December 4, “A Sherlock Carol” December 19-23, and “The Nutcracker” December 8-9.
But you don’t have to see a show to help. Items for the 2 charities may be dropped in collection boxes in the Playhouse lobby any time the box office is open (Tuesday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m.), as well as performance times.
For Norwalk Toys for Tots, new, unwrapped toys and books for children will be collected through December 14. Items sought include books for all ages in Spanish and Haitian Creole, and toys for newborns through age 18.
For the Homes with Hope food pantry, items may be dropped off in the Playhouse lobby during the run of “A Sherlock Carol,” Tuesday, December 19 through Saturday, December 23. Items needed include canned tuna, chicken, meat; canned vegetables and fruit; hot and cold cereal; canned soup, beef stew, chili; peanut butter and jelly; pasta sauce; mayonnaise; rice (small bags or boxes); protein and granola bars; and crackers.
Production began this week on “The Apprentice.”
The film with the familiar name is “an exploration of power and ambition, set in a world of corruption and deceit.” It explores Donald Trump’s efforts to build his real estate business in New York in the ’70s and ’80s, along with his relationship with attorney Roy Cohn.
Deadline says, “Filled with larger than life characters, it reveals the moral and human cost of a culture defined by winners and losers.”
The Westport connection: “The Apprentice” was written by Gabe Sherman. He went to Kings Highway Elementary and Bedford Middle School, then Staples High for one year before transferring (in part for skiing) to the Holderness School in New Hampshire.
Sherman graduated from Middlebury College in 2001. His bestseller “The Loudest Voice in the Room” inspired Showtime’s miniseries “The Loudest Voice,” starring Russell Crowe as Fox News founder Roger Ailes.
For more details on the film, click here.
“The Apprentice” stars (from left) Sebastian Stan as Donald Trump, Jeremy Strong as Roy Cohn, and Maria Bakalova as Ivana Trump (inserts).
Earthplace’s winter program guide is online. It includes information on youth and teen programs, drop-in activities, family and adult events, and day and summer camps.
Click here to see.
Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo was taken on Morningside Drive South.
Sure, it’s more natural for leaves to just lie where they fall.
But this is the suburban way.
Fingers crossed there’s not much wind …
And finally … in honor of today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo above:
(“06880” is filled with information you can use — today, and every day. To help support our work, please click here. Thank you!)
You might be thinking about Christmas trees.
They’re pretty. They’re fragrant. And they’re planted with one purpose only: to be cut.
One “06880” reader is thinking about many other species: those that are disappearing from residential properties at a rapid rate, all over town.
The reader says: “When I first moved to town 6 years ago and began walking about, I discovered Ferry Lane East. It’s a quiet, charming street with towering trees and houses hidden in the forest.
“Year by year, ‘luxury’ developers take one lot after another. The first thing they do is clear-cut the 100+ year-old trees, before building the maximum size box allowed by zoning.
“Of the 18 lots on Ferry Lane East, 7 have been ‘developed’ in this manner.
24 East Ferry Lane
“It’s going on everywhere in Westport, of course. But — leaving aside the absurd carbon impact of 8,000-square foot houses replacing 2,000-square foot ones — there is no effort to integrate at least some of the mature trees in the new development.”
The reader asked Dick Stein about this. Dick is a long-serving member of the Westport Tree Board, a professional landscape expert, and the driving force behind the identification and attempted protection of Westport’s “Notable Trees.”
The reader says: “Dick’s explanation was that developers are worried about buyers suing them if a beautiful, mature tree dies within the first couple years of a sale. this happens frequently, since the soil around the trees gets compacted during construction. The developer fails to remedy it before they leave. and the trees can die off simply from that.
“Also, trees can get in the way and slow down construction. It’s cheaper and safer to just clear cut as step number one. So that’s what they do.”
Here is #4 East Ferry Lane. Trees that were removed are circled:
Here is the lot today:
The reader notes: “I’m not sure what, if anything, can be done to encourage developers to stop clear cutting, and attempt to integrate mature trees.
“I know everyone is aware of the situation. This is just a reminder of the speed with which it is happening. I’ve been here only 6 years, and as a complete newcomer I can see the ongoing impact.”
(“06880” has covered Westport tree issues regularly. We’ll continue to do so. But we need reader support. Please click here to help. Thank you!)