This Is My 10,000th Post On “06880”

It’s not a very good one, is it?

 (Photo by Katherine Hooper)

Osprey: August Update

There was plenty of furor this spring over the Fresh Market ospreys’ nest.

Right now, all seems good.

The nest looked healthy yesterday. Mama was at her perch. Papa was probably at the beach, looking for food.

And Patricia McMahon was there, to take this dramatic photo.

(Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Over 40. But Not Over The Hill.

There are certain sports you can do all your life: Golf. Tennis. Swimming. Running.

At some point, baseball players move on to softball. Football players trade their helmets for flags.

Soccer — a game of constant running, tough physical contact and diving* all over the place — seems to be a young person’s game.

Don’t tell that to the Fairfield Gaelic-American Club team. With a roster filled with Westport and Westport-related players, they made the finals of the national Over-40 Cup tournament, in Maryland.

In the semifinal, they edged the Florida Kickers — the defending champions national champions — 1-0.

Unfortunately, they fell in the finals to a team from Chicago. “They were fitter, better organized and had a few former MLS [pro] players,” says Todd Coleman.

By day, he’s an investment banker. In his spare time, he’s co-president of the Westport Soccer Association. And — as a former Staples High School captain — he’s representative of his team that is not very Gaelic, but quite Westport-oriented.

The Gaelic-American team. Front row (from left): Anton Camaj, Mauro Rodrigues-Costa, Tim Yates, Sebastian Wojdeska, Michael Hennessey, Tyler Ricks, Edwin Leon, Sofronis Vlahos. Rear: Jamie Poff, Brian Thomas, Larry Piturro, Javier Oritz, Edik Eskandarian, Andy Hoffmann, Omar tork, Xavi Egurbide, Todd Coleman, Matt Lawlor, Seth Cohen, Frank Surace.

Todd’s teammates this weekend included Westporter Tyler Ricks, plus Edwin Leon, Steve Halloran, Tim Yates and Andy Hoffmann. All have played on many Westport men’s teams, and in Staples soccer alumni events (though they are only “honorary” alums).

Gaelic players who helped the team reach the finals, but could not make this trip, include Dr. Jonathan Sollinger, a former Staples captain and Dartmouth College star; Mickey Kydes, Westport Soccer Association director of coaching, former MLS player and Westport resident; EJ Zebro, a certified movement and performance coach who owns Westport’s  TAP StrengthLab, and Mike Brown, who won 2 state championships at Staples and starred at Middlebury College.

Congratulations to all. “06880” is indeed where Westport meets the world — and the world game.

*For headers and tackles, not the fake-injury kind.

Seniors Feast On SMORES

Jake Motyl’s grandparents lived through the Holocaust. He’s learned a lot from them.

Jake is proud that he’s able to teach them something in return: technology.

With his help, his grandparents in Washington, DC and Florida now use FaceTime, Facebook and Skype to stay in touch with the Staples High School rising junior and his family.

But Jake did not stop there. This summer, he and his friends took their expertise to the Senior Center. Twice a week — under the name “SMORES,” and with help from program manager Holly Betts — they offered free sessions. From iPhones and iPads to alarm clocks (yes, alarm clocks) they demystified the process of connecting with today’s world.

Jake Motyl

“They teach us a lot. I’m glad I can teach them,” Jake — who, in his spare time, is a varsity tennis and squash player, and member of Staples’ Service League of Boys — says of his “students.”

He and Josh Suggs, Sam Seideman, Eli Herman, Phoebe Miller and Caroline Motyl — Jake’s younger sister — have had an eventful summer.

They helped set up tablets. They taught a woman having trouble typing on her phone how to use Siri (she, in turn, taught her husband). They showed people how to open photos online. They answered questions about email, and the functions of all those mysterious icons.

The man who brought in his alarm clock — hey, anyone who has tried to use one in a hotel knows how confusing they now are — learned how to set the alarm on his iPhone. “He was amazed,” Jake says.

Working with older men and women is an act of joy for Jake. “They helped build this community,” he says. “It’s so gratifying to help them. We can really empower them, to stay connected.”

Phoebe Miller and Caroline Motyl take a break from teaching and learning. In the background, Jake Motyl helps out.

Teaching comes naturally to him. In fact, he says, he may go into education as a career.

Jake’s friends have talents beyond technology. Josh gave a lecture at the Senior Center on cryptocurrency. Sam is an accomplished cook.

“Westport teens get a bad rep,” Jake says. “I want to change that. My friends and I really like helping. And I think everyone learns a lot.”

Sam Seideman demystifies an iPhone.

When the school year starts, SMORES will probably move to 3-5 p.m. on Mondays. They hope teenagers in other towns pick up the concept, and start similar programs.

(From left): Holly Betts, Jake Motyl, Sam Seideman, Josh Suggs and Eli Herman, outside the Senior Center.

It’s a great idea. So what about the name?

“We wanted something creative — not just Tech Help or something like that,” Jake says. SMORES stands for Social Media OutReach EducatorS.

And whether you’re a young digital native or a senior citizen, everyone loves S’mores.

(There are many ways to learn more about SMORES. Click here for the website; for more information, click “Contact Us” at the top of that page. You can also email Jake encourages people to book sessions for their parents and grandparents in Westport.)

Pic Of The Day #853

This shot has it all: an artist, the cannons, a seagull, and a Compo Beach sunset (Photo/Fred Cantor)

Motorcycle Cops On A Mission

How are you spending your weekend?

While you (and I) enjoy the beach, barbecues and other perks of a rapidly ending summer, 3 Westport police officers have taken a road trip.

Officers Rachel Baron, Mark Grasso and Scott Thompson used personal time to join volunteers from police departments nationwide, as escorts in a charity motorcycle ride.

America’s 911 Foundation — an all-volunteer group — organizes the annual event. Honoring victims of, and first responders to, the September 11 terrorist attacks, the ride visits all 3 sites at which people lost their lives that day in 2001.

It started Thursday in Shanksville, Pennsylvania; headed to the Pentagon, and ends today at the World Trade Center.

The 9/11 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania …

As escorts, the Westport officers helped clear the road ahead, stopped traffic at on-ramps and intersections, and made sure the many motorcyclists felt safe and supported.

… and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.

Money raised goes to great causes. Last year, the foundation presented $32,000 in college scholarships to 16 first responder children; provided over $7,000 to California first responders working on wildfires, and donated funds to fire companies in Tennessee and Pennsylvania for better equipment.

Photo Challenge #242

I could say the heat got to me. But it wasn’t that hot last Sunday.

When Beth DeVoll sent an image for consideration as a photo challenge — it showed weather-beaten wood, a bit of brick, and the number “1” — I thought “aha!”

I’d already used the weather vane on that roof as an early Photo Challenge. This was a nice view of another part of the building.

In fact — as Elaine Marino pointed out seconds after I posted it — I’d already used a very similar photo, a couple of years earlier. She’d guessed the location that time too. (Click here for the shot.)

To be technical though, this time Elaine called it the Westport Housing Authority office. That’s actually #5 Canal Street. Morley Boyd said was the Aquarion pumping station. That’s #15.

James Weisz not only got the location, he identified it correctly as the Westport Public Schools’ facilities department office. Kathie Motes Bennewitz knew that too — though she inexplicably called it “2 Canal Street.”

Also correct, with the address of 1 Canal Street: Kati Krizsan.

This week’s Photo Challenge is a bottle opener. (Kids — ask your parents!) I’ve lived in Westport my whole life, and never noticed this. But it’s in a very public place, which photographer Matt Murray pointed out to me.

If you know where you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

Shirley Jackson’s 18 Indian Hill Road: The Sequel

CJ Hauser’s latest story on the Literary Hub website begins:

My niece is 8 months old. She was born into Shirley Jackson’s old house in Westport, Connecticut, which my sister and brother-in-law bought when they wanted to start a family. Do you know who Shirley Jackson is? I’m sure you do, but if not, what I need you to know is that Shirley Jackson was an author who most famously wrote about two things: 1) children 2) haunted houses.

Jackson was a prolific writer. Her short story “The Lottery” — first published in 1948, about brutal events in a seemingly normal village, and perhaps an inspiration for “The Hunger Games” — is an English course staple. It still spooks me.

Shortly after her story appeared in The New Yorker, Jackson and her husband Stanley Hyman — a famous literary critic — rented 18 Indian Hill, for $175 a month. Jackson described Westport as “a nice fancy rich arty community.” Eventually, Ralph Ellison joined them. Dylan Thomas was a frequent guest, and J.D. Salinger played catch with Jackson’s sons.

18 Indian Hill Road, back in the day.

In 2016 I wrote about that famous house, built in 1901 with a commanding view of Saugatuck. David Loffredo owned it then, and spent nearly 2 decades researching its history. He restored much of the interior as well.

Now he’s sent along the Literary Hub piece. It mentions some of what I wrote about 3 years ago — including the fact that in October 1950, 2 days before his 8th birthday — Jackson’s son Laurence rode his bike out of the driveway, and was hit by a car.

The accident, and the lawsuit that followed, soured Jackson even more on the town she had found “too suburban for her taste, too many picnics and Cub Scout outings, a few too many self-conscious artists around.” She moved to Vermont.

18 Indian Hill, today.

In 2017, Loffredo sold the house. The new owner’s sister is Hauser.

Her Literary Hub piece includes an anecdote about Jackson and Dylan Thomas having sex on the back porch. Today a fake historical placard commemorates the event.

The bulk of the story though is about life in a famous house — specifically, the author’s niece who is growing up there.

The house may or may not be “haunted.”

But it sure has a history with a woman who made her mark writing horror stories.

(Click here to read CJ Hauser’s entire piece.)

Pic Of The Day #852

Levitt Pavilion and full moon, from the Saugatuck River (Photo/Nicole vonDohlen)

Recycling The Beach

Alert “06880” reader/concerned environmentalist Amy Berkin — a Weston resident who loves Compo Beach, and often picks up straws, bottle caps, candy wrappers and other trash on her early morning visits — writes:

I’ve always wondered why there are so few recycling receptacles at Compo — especially given how many people I see throwing plastic into the trash.

I usually try to bring my plastic home with me to recycle. It seems wrong sitting looking out at the water, knowing that’s where so much plastic winds up.

The other night, I asked someone who was collecting the black trash bags from the receptacles why we don’t recycle at the beach. He explained that the town has never provided clear plastic bags, which are required for recycle collection.

Compo Beach receptacle (Photo/Amy Berkin)

Even though there are a few recycle bins at the beach, it all goes into the same fill because the collection bags are not clear. The town collectors don’t have the manpower to separate the trash (nor should they have to, in my opinion).

I think the general population is conscious enough about the need to recycle. Can’t the town supply clear bags?!

I asked Parks & Recreation Department director Jennifer Fava about this. She replied:

The issue is not about whether or not there are clear bags. The issue is that in public places it is very difficult to actually have separate recycling, as once the bin is contaminated the contents can no longer be recycled. This can occur with just one ice cream wrapper, one used food wrapper, plate, etc.