All Those Nice Cottages

Avi Kaner was sitting in the airport the other day, waiting for an overseas flight.

Avi is Westport’s Board of Finance chairman, but at that moment he was like any other traveler: killing time by chatting with a random stranger also waiting to board.

The man — Uwe — lives in Italy. but was raised in Germany. When Avi said mentioned his own home, Uwe said,  “I lived in Westport!”

Turns out Uwe was a member of the Wollmatingen Soccer Club, in Konstanz. For over a decade beginning in the early 1970s, Westport and Konstanz had an exchange program. I remember those days well.

One summer, Westport players and coaches would travel abroad for 2 weeks. We’d stay in host homes, and in the spirit of freundschaft the German families took us all around beautiful Lake Constance, throughout southern Germany, and into the nearby Swiss Alps.

The next year, we’d reciprocate. We’d open our homes to them, arranging cookouts at Compo and excursions to New York City and Mystic.

There was plenty of soccer too. (Yes, the Americans did fine.)

Clearly, Uwe remembered Westport fondly — to the point of saying he “lived” here.

Of course, he had a few questions for Avi. For example, he asked about “all those nice cottages spread throughout Westport.”

Time sure plays tricks on the memories of our youth.

9 responses to “All Those Nice Cottages

  1. That’s an incredible story. After 35 year !
    Need to excuse myself for the “nice cottages”. Magnificent mansions would have been the appropriate term, but it didn’t come to my mind at that moment. Sorry for that to all Westporters, but English still remains a foreign language for me.

  2. Thanks, Uwe — much appreciated. And come back and visit any time — we still remember Konstanz fondly!

  3. What a small world! So glad the connection was made. I hope these types of exchange programs continue in the future. The memories on both sides seem to last a lifetime!

    • Unfortunately, the many demands of modern teenage life have put an end to these exchanges. After the Konstanz program stopped — primarily because Westport families could not commit to hosting players for 10-14 days — I took a dozen more soccer teams abroad. We went to Holland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Italy — even Australia and New Zealand. The home-stay component was less — only 3-4 days — and there was no reciprocity. (The rest of the time was taken up with tournaments and training.)

      But even finding 10-14 days for Westport players to commit in the summer became too much. For the past few years, the Staples boys soccer program has had a team-bonding trip of 3 days — to Lake Placid, Lake Champlain and whitewater rafting in Maine, among other destinations.

      Last year, we could not even find one summer weekend when more than 4 players were available. What a shame. Today’s players don’t realize what they’re missing.

  4. Very cool story. Unfortunately, that soccer exchange program took place just after my playing days with the Westport U-19 team. Would have loved to have participated.

  5. You should post a picture of the Westport team from that first trip. I think that was the group with Jeff Williamson, Dana Hollingsworth et al.

    • will try to get a foto with all members from both teams, from one of my friends in Konstanz.
      How is Ray doing, he was the guy that hosted me at Westport ?

  6. Oh, I have photos. I have a whole album. A great trip for my team with many great memories and stories we still tell including some that I share with my kids to this day. I still remember my host – Dietmar Eberle. And on the return we hosted Dietmar and his teammate Chaumy.