Will Adams drove to Westport the other day, from his home in Vermont. It’s a state with plenty of guns, few gun laws, and even fewer problems surrounding them.
Meandering through town — the place he grew up, and went to Burr Farms, Long Lots and Staples — Will’s car was shot at by “some entitled little shit” teenager.
That was the last straw. Will comes to Westport often to visit his 84-year-old father — beloved band teacher Jack Adams. The changes he notices every couple of years have left a sour taste in Will’s mouth.
This time he vented on Facebook.
Reaction was swift. A former classmate wrote that Westport “hasn’t really felt like home for a couple of decades. Now it’s just a faceless town full of rich pukes.”
A woman agreed: “Nothing is the same. It’s hard to believe I grew up there! I live in Fairfield and almost never go to Westport.”
A 3rd chimed in: “I’m thinking (god shoot me for this) that Boca (where my parents retired) might be better? Shit.”
I’ve known Will for years, so I wanted to learn more. I called him the other morning. Yes, there are phones in Vermont.
“Every place changes,” he acknowledged. “But my biggest observation is that even though I knew growing up that Westport was an affluent town, it didn’t seem as in-your-face as now. Money seemed more understated.”
Driving down a side road, he saw a demolition sign on a Cape. “It seemed like a perfectly good house,” Will said. He knows that the 3-bedroom Dutch colonial he lived in on Long Lots, near the North Avenue intersection, will eventually be torn down.
Life is different up north. “I value simplicity,” Will noted. “The contrasts are so stark.”
In elementary school, Will remembered, “we took field trips around town. It was highlighted that this was a colonial town. We learned all about the early settlers and British soldiers.” That reverence for history, he said, “seems to have retreated into the background.”
Downtown, he added, “could be any affluent town anywhere in the US.” About the only places still here from his youth are Max’s, Klaff’s, Westport Pizzeria, Oscar’s and Achorn’s. “Main Street is all designer shops. It doesn’t seem terribly personal to me.”
Just as distressing, he said, is that “everyone seems in a hurry. They drive 15 to 20 miles over the speed limit, with cell phones to their ears. It seems like all their interactions are short.”
Will — who spent 15 years as a lobbyist, and after soon finishing graduate school will work as an elementary school teacher — does not want to seem overly critical. “These are value judgments,” he notes. “Times change. People change. Maybe everyone who is 42 or 43 looks back and says, ‘Things are not the way they used to be.'”
“But I keep coming back to, ‘When is enough enough? How much house do you need?’ I’m sure there are very, very good people in Westport. These are just my observations about contrasts.
“It must be very tiring to worry all the time about paying for your mortgage, taxes, the latest car. It’s exhausting for me to watch. I can’t imagine what it’s like to live like that.”
Two years ago Will was in Westport for the 50th anniversary of Staples Players. It was Memorial Day weekend, and he went to church.
The minister offered prayers for service members, and all who were sick. His final lamentation was for “those who lost so much in hard economic times.”
That struck Will as “like a prayer for portfolios. It just sounded very stark to me.”
He concluded: “Westport is a very pretty town. But as I drive around it seems something goes by the wayside, when people place more value on the land than in the home.”