A Guide For Summer Guests

Summer might be the best reason of all to move to Westport. Between the beaches, Longshore, backyard pools, the Playhouse, Levitt, plenty of restaurants, and tons of activities for kids and families, this is an awesome time of year.

Which is why many Westporters are happy to leave town. They rent their homes for substantial sums. The cost to them of renting elsewhere — even a European vacation — is far less than what they get for handing the keys to a bunch of strangers for a couple of weeks (or months).

Well, strangers, if you’re going to live here, you should know a few things. This is how to be a real Westporter:

When you leave Compo Beach and turn right on Hillspoint, don’t drive 2 miles an hour like you’ve never seen water before. You may think it’s a lovely sight, but we’ve got places to go. Speed it up, buddy.

Yeah, it’s pretty. Get over it!

Conversely, it’s perfectly all right to drive erratically — fast, slow, then fast again — if you’re talking on a cell phone. Or, better yet, texting. Technically, both are illegal in Connecticut. But this is Westport, where magically no rules apply to you. Only to other people. Trust me — it’s true.

While walking or jogging, ignore all sidewalks. They’re there for decorative purposes only. However, if you’re riding a bike or running with a stroller filled with triplets, you must use the sidewalk. It’s the law.

Parking lot stripes are mere suggestions. Feel free to land your car wherever you wish. Sharp angles are fine! And if you’re in the narrow lane in front of Robek’s and Silver’s, lined on both sides with parallel parking slots, it’s your lucky day. It’s a Westport tradition to park worse there than any other place in town.

Just another day in front of Robek’s and Silver’s.

After shopping, feel free to leave your cart wherever you wish. You might want to find a slight incline, so the moment you drive off gravity causes your cart to roll slowly downhill. Too bad you’re not around to watch it comically rocket into a random car or child!

You know those signs prohibiting unattended saving of picnic tables at Compo? What a hoot! Go ahead — reserve to your heart’s content. You’re not a real Westporter until you smush 3 or 4 tables together, plant a tablecloth on it (don’t forget the vase!), and scatter some beach chairs around the perimeter.

Here’s how real Westporters do it.

Welcome to Westport. And don’t bother cleaning up before you leave. We’ll take care of all that when we get back!

66 responses to “A Guide For Summer Guests

  1. Ouch. Somebody steal your picnic table?

    Though I do agree with the points in paragraphs 5, 6 and 7.

    Might I add that red lights are also just suggestions?

  2. Hey, except for the summer beach behavior, what you are describing is what Westporters themselves do year round!

  3. Right on Dan! How about stop signs are optional if a. On the phone or b. driving an expensive car with ny plates!

  4. ..and use your horn the split second a light turns green !

  5. Westport Convert

    Thanks for continuing to perpetuate Westport’s class warfare.


    • It is more akin to mud wrestling than class warfare.

      • Eric Buchroeder

        There once was a time ago a war in Westport. The poor and middle-class were vanquished and exiled to faraway places unless they were domestics or service workers. The victors of this war, however, have continued to support firing squads long after having secured their position at the pinnacle of society known as the 1%. They, for reasons known only to themselves, relentlessly stand in a circle with their rifles pointed inward at each other and pull the trigger. But alas, being who they are, they miss their target and become even more self-centered.

  6. What class warfare?

  7. Don’t forget> when walking alongside Hillspoint Road not to smile or make eye contact with fellow walkers.

  8. westport mom

    The rules do not apply because town officials look the other way and choose not to enforce their own rules.

  9. Since I live and choose to go the Hillspoint direction from the beach every day many times a day, I can appreciate the awesome view and why someone might want to take it all in at an often excruciating slow pace, but often am frustrated as well when I need to get somewhere. I do remember each time, that I “choose” to take that route specifically because it is so beautiful. Why would I live at the beach and not want to drive by! So take a deep breath and enjoy the view when you are slowed down!!! Plus there are so many runners/bikers right now that you really can’t go anywhere too fast down there…

    • Westport Expat


      Exactly. When I’m visiting town and swing by the beach, I drive carefully – which I guess is slowly in Westport – on Hillspoint so as to avoid the runners who randomly step off the sidewalk or never were on the sidewalk; the dog walker on the sidewalk with their dog at the end of the extended leash in the middle of the road (not exaggerating, happened in front of me); the three-abreast walker/talkers who will not budge, etc. I’m sorry if it’s inconvenient to those behind me, but I’ll be damned if I hit someone, even if they seem to be asking for it.

  10. Maggie Feczko

    Gave me a good laugh, Dan, because like all good comedy there is truth in the exaggeration. My favorite is when people at the parallel parking spots in front of Robeks and Silvers don’t bother going to the intersection, they just roll over the curb and “merge” into traffic on the Post Road.

  11. I would like to shout out to the woman that first stared me down and then nearly ran over my feet in a huge dark SUV while I was in the crosswalk in front of the Stop and Shop entrance (July 3rd)! First, I think in Westport as pretty much every state in the country, the car must yield to a pedestrian in the crosswalk no matter how much you are in a hurry — and probably accelerating to 30 mph to make sure you get to the crosswalk first in the Stop and Shop parking lot might be a little too fast. I am quite nimble and was able to avoid — not all our citizens move as quickly and shouldn’t have to!

    • Hey BM ever hear of the points system? You get points for hitting 1. Elderly person 2. Kid under 5 3. Pregant lady 4. Same lady pushing baby carriage, etc. etc. This system is indeed encouraged and practiced by the W1%.

  12. Forgot to add that if you take your dog to Winslow, don’t bother cleaning up after your darling. Eventually it will decompose. Also, when you dog becomes aggressive or starts to violate another dog, just look away and pretend you’re busy on an important cell call. Then laugh it off when the other dog’s owner jumps in to separate the brawl.

    • Westporter since 1970

      Additional rules for special Westporter dog treatment–
      Leave it in the car with windows closed…
      Leave it in the car with windows open…
      Clean up after your dog, but leave the blue plastic bag right there…
      When you wrap up your summer (if the dog survived you) leave the dog behind…

  13. Ex-Westporter

    Even tho I don’t live there anymore all this has been reaching my ears. What happened to the beautiful, courteous, friendly town where everyone knew your name & please don’t say growth! That’s no reason to become rude, crude & everything else that comes with it!

  14. A concerned reader

    Dan…. Again you choose toattempt to destroy the town that you live in. This blog has drastically deteriorated throughout the years to the point where any actual “town news” is you speaking in a crass sarcastic way. Just change it back to the old way otherwise your credibility will go right down the drain with this blog

  15. How about a giving a bratty 10 year old a good chokehold just because he tossed a water balloon near you? It happened a few days ago.

  16. Eric Buchroeder

    “Concerned Reader”,
    You’d be hard-pressed to cite a more upbeat perspective on Westport or on life for that matter than Dan Woog’s. I struggle to understand your characterization of Dan’s work as destructive. His writing for over forty years in his hometown have been devoted to accentuating the positive aspects of the community that occur every day and likely would pass unnoticed if not for his ability to see the best in life without ignoring the aspects that are less positive.

    • A concerned reader

      and you see this post as positive. Unfortunately your logic stated above just simply does not have any ground. Thanks….but no thanks

  17. Westport Convert

    Eric — give it a rest!

    Anyway, I agree with the claims put forth by “concerned reader” but disagree with the hypothesized intention and motive behind Dan’s actions.

    I do not think Dan tries to throw in negative, political, crass posts because he actually feels that way. I think he does it because he knows any controversy that may be published or discussed in the comments – whether intentional or not – will only increase the traffic & viewership of his website.


  18. Ex-Westporter

    Dan you keep up your great work. Love this site. Especially the old pics of Wspt when. I was there & loved every minute of it!

  19. Eric Buchroeder

    No can do! Interesting to note your choice of words as re: Dan’s website “viewership” as opposed to “readership” because while you may be able to VIEW what’s in Dan’s blog you obviously aren’t READING it or at least COMPREHENDING it. You must have been “trained” in some other school system than Westport’s.

    • Westport Convert

      “Viewership” is the proper term, as it is an online blog. Ask anyone in the biz. [Unique] site views can be considered practically the same as “readership.”

      If you must know I grew up and spent nearly 25 years of my life in Weston, which now includes a high school that comes BEFORE Staples on the state rankings! Moved to Westport with my spouse in 1986 and couldn’t be happier.

      I have no trouble comprehending or reading. I am a huge 06880 and Dan Woog fan. But I am free to voice my thoughts, as is Dan!!! That is the beauty of democracy. Go hide away in your commune. Westport is doing okay without you here.


      • Eric Buchroeder

        Yes you can “view” Dan’s website but since the content is printed in text you have to “read” it or else you won’t know what those letters mean when they’re put together in that order. Anybody that knew me from Westport must be laughing themselves to incontinence at your assumptions. I’m about as far removed from a commune dweller as can be imagined and have only gotten more independent since leaving town in ’78 to make my way in the cruel Capitalist world outside of Westport. I’ve never questioned your right to express yourself regardless of which orifice you mistakenly choose to do so, so why do you question mine? Of course Westport is doing OK without me there. But it would be fun to move back and then you and I could really go round the Minuteman except if I were in westport I wouldn’t waste my time. What’s your excuse?

  20. If everyone only did only according to the options available to them, preferences and improvements wouldn’t be recognized.

  21. What Dan does is hold up a mirror to the changes in Westport (some of them unwelcome to those of us who knew and loved it in it’s Golden Age as Eric put it the other day) — hello? Dan didn’t go around manufacturing these scenarios and behaviors that seem to be the reason why Westport is a shadow of it’s former self, i.e., the great parking lot photos and picnic table photos above. Yes, there are some snarky comments on here too and some I don’t agree with but as for Dan—- he’s holding the town’s feet to the fire hoping for some good change too. He’s entitled as a lifelong citizen. Keep bringing it, Dan. I would move back to Westport if it could eliminate some of these issues in a heartbeat.

  22. Dan, I really enjoy your blog. I live in Norwalk but grew up in Westport. I must admit that many of these posts about bad drivers and traffic cross town lines. Norwalk has its share of road hogs and gas guzzling SUVs but it seems that whenever I’m driving on side streets in Westport, someone always passes me. I know that many of us are just too preoccupied with our texting and cell phones. But doesn’t good common sense apply to driving on narrow winding roads in our area, that you might swerve around a car in your way only to hit someone walking just beyond your sight line. Please folks, slow down and enjoy the view!

  23. Just Asking

    How about all the tag sale signs, political signs, and NOW FIREWORKS SIGNS!!! that are littered around our fair haven promoting things that have now passed…. Go clean that crap up…I hope D & M can have one of their house managers or maybe one of the six kids start walking around town to make sure they left it as they found it….

    • Just Asking More

      Speaking of things that have passed, it’s about time to take down all the Andy Corgi signs.

      • Now, you have crossed the line – ranting about your ostentatious toy Barron philanthropist neighbor is entertaining, but questioning the veracity of the indefatigable Andy the Corgi is heresy!

  24. Please don’t always blame people who do not live in Westport. This is not always the case. Also, isn’t it strange to accept people’s money and depend upon it but look down upon them?

  25. Dan, stop whining! Just another blog full of complaints about Westport.

  26. Whatever happen to the days Paul Newman and his family would drive around Westport in that old VW Bug convertible and no one would bother them? I remember laying on the beach, always near the cannons, and seeing Paul and family a few feet away like anyone else on the beach and no one bothered them.

    Whatever happened to the days Westport was Westport and there were no tourists. Just friends visiting from Norwalk, Weston or Ashtabula, Ohio.

    What ever happened to the days Main Street was a two way street and every store was owned by a local family or someone you knew? What ever happened to Mr. Schaefer? If it wasn’t for him I guarantee there would have been 1000’s of kids who would have never experienced sports at any level or owned a pair of Basketball or Soccer shoes or Hockey Skates. He was simply the nicest person I even met….

    What ever happened to the Fire Horns? Does the local Telephone Book still publish the Fire Codes on the last page inside cover?

    Whatever happened to the days you could drive down Wilton Road towards the railroad station and see the river?

    Whatever happened to the days you could hitchhike anywhere you wanted to go within Fairfield County, including NYC, without worrying about getting mugged or worst?

    Whatever happened to those runs to Vista on Friday and Saturday night?

    Whatever happen to the days when there was no platform at the Westport Station and you had to walk up stairs on the train to enter? What happened to the days the train to NYC had to stop for a few minutes somewhere near the NY/CT line so the train could be converted from diesel to electric power into Grand Central?

    What ever happened to the Olde Westport Town Crier(sp?) I used to deliver twice a week?

    What ever happened to the school district funding sports programs starting in Jr. High School and Coleytown, Bedford and Long Lots would play each other in Football, Hockey, Basketball, Swimming, Soccer and Baseball each year? Whatever happened to full dress, full contact Football in Jr. High School?

    Whatever happened to Jr. High Schools? What is a Middle School anyway?

    Whatever happened to Westport?

    • Richard Lawrence Stein

      Thank you for bringing back some great memories… Can I add getting fresh glazed donuts(warm) from coffee’an… And seeing Bill the traffic cop…

  27. Yes, exactly! — That’s what a lot of us are asking who loved Westport when it was a town to be proud of — a town that was so memorable, people are talking about it decades later with great love. No we can’t go back to the past but we can expect that the good things endure and overshadow what’s come in to steal the town’s soul.

    Dan’s mission, should he choose to accept it, is to bring Westport back to herself through his writing, his blog and his shining the light on the stuff that needs to go. It isn’t a job for the weak. He’s taken some hits but that comes with the territory of a hero.

    I think the real Westport can be resurrected and if it is, we’ll be there.

  28. Eric Buchroeder

    Westport is no different than anyplace else in America today. People long for the past and they ask people like Dan to resurrect it through his writing. The old Westport is still alive in each person who misses it and bringing it back will only happen one person at a time starting anytime they want it to start. I remember the old Westport when I lived there ’52-’78 and there were people back then who thought the old Westport was the new Westport just like they do now.

    I have lifelong friends that are raising their children in the new Westport and in many ways it seems like a nicer place than the old Westport. Certainly the kids today are very nice and I don’t know if they were back in the old Westport or if I just didn’t see it. Dan writes about it all the time and spends a great deal of his time at Staples where he gets most of the material that winds up in his blog.

    When I was a kid in Westport growing up with Dan I couldn’t believe how positive about living in Westport and going to Staples Dan was. I wasn’t. Now at 60 I can see that he’s never changed in that regard but I hope I have. Tip Schaefer and his brother Charlie were indeed two great people. I don’t think there could possibly have been a kid like me in the old Westport who didn’t love Schaefer’s Sporting Goods or didn’t know Tip and Charlie mano a mano. Another one was Dan Coughlin of Sport Mart. Every kid was on a first name basis with them and nicer people never lived and I believe never will. Amazing that two of the best loved stores in Westport were sporting goods stores owned by great guys who never lacked for business because they were like family to everyone but especially fatherless boys. My favorite stores in Westport as a kid were the sporting goods stores and the hardware stores all of which are gone now. Another one was Frank at B&G Army Navy store. I used to like to play soldier when I was a kid and I learned at a young age that if I needed soldier gear I could wear Mattel plastic crap or buy the real thing from Frank for much, much less. I would ask Frank if any of the stuff I bought had been in a real battle from WWII and Korea. I don’t think I ever got a straight answer from him so I don’t know if in fact he was selling real battle-tested gear or just Army surplus and I still have much of the stuff I bought from Frank. I have a 60 year old genuine Marine Corps poncho that I bought from Frank in 1962 when I went off to “Y” camp. It has kept me dry in the woods for 50 years.

  29. Like everything else — the issues about Westport that get discussed on this blog have positives and negatives — everything is always a mixture. What some folks are lamenting here are some basic things and manners and good will that seem not to be as visible. And sorry but it seems somewhat exaggerated in Westport sometimes — maybe due to the small size of the town

    • Eric Buchroeder

      I live in a small town outside of a big city in Ohio and its all the same. People who have lived in Cincinnati since childhood lament the bygone “Old Cincinnati” as much as I hear people lament the passing of the “Old Westport.” When I was a kid in Westport we couldn’t stand out of towners particularly those who drove cars with NY plates. I was 30 years old before I moved to upstate NY and learned that not all New Yorkers were pains in the ass sent to mess up Westport in the summertime. If they are now messing up Westport on a year round basis then you all have my sympathies.

  30. Richard Lawrence Stein

    I grew up in the kings highway area of town… Family is still there.. Nearing four decades… At some point… I would presume assume and figure a newcomer got their hanes/fruit of the looms in a twist and convinced the town to put in not only multiple stop signs but three sets of speed bumps…. The road was called for eons KINGS HIGHWAY… Not STOP N GO WAY… This is the kind of nonsense older Westporters are talking about…

  31. I think that what you are saying about Westport is that a lot of that small town feeling and good will is gone for good. The mom and pop shops of yesterday have been replaced by high end boutiques and chain stores run by corporations. Dan has long chronicled the rate at which these businesses come and go. They are just here to make money, not friends. A lot of Westport’s small town charm and history are also gone, buried in the rubble of “the teardown of the day.” It’s very unsettling to see houses that we grew up in, or the houses of our friends, suddenly turned into the big white elephant in the neighborhood. It makes me wonder when I drive by these McMansions “what is wrong with this picture?”

  32. Eric Buchroeder

    I was in the Kings Highway area in May for the first time in ten odd years. I grew up on Old Hill Rd. My first reaction was the same as yours: WTF are these GD MF speed bumps doing here? But in retrospect, when I was a kid Kings Highway was a high speed thoroughfare and I remember on several occasions kids getting run over by some commuter who was late for a train. So maybe there are two sides to every story. I still think the speed bumps, in fact ALL speed bumps are asinine. I also like to speed whenever I think I can get away with it. I first drove over 100MPH on Greens Farms Rd when it was the longest straightaway in town from Compo Rd. to Hillspoint Rd. I was 16 and driving my mother’s ’65 Ford Fairlane 283 V8 which mysteriously started burning oil not long after that.

  33. Eric Buchroeder

    My favorite extra-curricular activity at Staples was cutting class (any class would do) taking my motorcycle and jumping the hills on Whitney Street. It was so convenient and you could get both wheels off the ground twice in one run.

  34. Eric Buchroeder

    I first learned about high confiscatory taxes from the old gray haired guy who ran the hobby shop next to B&G Army Navy across from the Post Office. I was into building Revell and Monogram WWII airplane models and they used to go for .98/ea. So I’d save a buck from collecting pop bottles and when I had a buck i used to go buy one. One day when he rang me up the old gray haired guy said: “It’s a dollar and two cents” and I thought “WTF is This!!!” and squealed like a banshee. He explained to me that there was tax and then didn’t charge me any. I probably avoided the tax for the next year or so by telling him I forgot about it and he never called me out. He just charged me a buck.

  35. Regarding the speed bumps on Kings Highway, I believe that they were put there to deter motorists from speeding! There was one fatal accident in the 70s that resulted in the installation of these speed bumps. Neighbors were constantly complaining about screeching tires as cars flew around the curves and down the hill from the Post Road all the way to the intersection at Wilton Road. I too think it’s a pain to keep braking at the stop sign and easing over the bumps but the speed bumps haved saved a lot of lives and the folks on Kings Highway can have a little peace and quiet!

  36. Richard Lawrence Stein

    The speed bumps were put there in the eighties… I don’t recall these horrific accidents you speak of or any major incidents… Granted I might not recall them…. But it’s excessive and now you just give wild drivers bumps to jump or accidents waiting to happen…

  37. RLS — perhaps it was the 80s that they put the speed bumps on Kings Hwy. The fatal accident I mentioned happened in the mid 70s, two car collision where a Westport woman was killed. I am extremely annoyed by these speed bumps too–that’s why I avoid them. I live in Norwalk not too far from Kings Hwy. I make a right hand turn onto Old Hill Road and meander my way home. I do my fair share of bitching too but I’m sure those speed bumps are there for the reason I mentioned.

  38. Eric Buchroeder

    Kings Highway has been a “workaround” to Post Rd. traffic since George Washington was cutting down cherry trees. As a child growing up in that area I can still remember the terminal velocity that cars used to achieve in that neighborhood. I hate speed bumps but we did it to ourselves. Speed bumps are cheaper than speed traps and are always on the job.

  39. The fatal accident on Kings Highway killed Clara Frasetto in 1978 according to ancestry.com archives. I couldn’t find anything in the Westport News archives. Eric, how right you are about the “terminal velocity” of cars up and down that street. The speed bumps went into effect as a result of that accident.

  40. Eric Buchroeder

    Cathy, do you remember the old CR&L line bus for commuters they called the “Hillbilly Bus”? It made its run up and down Kings Highway and Wilton Rd. and I will never forget how fast it used to go on the long, curvy down slope from Wright Street to Wilton Rd. It’s a wonder more children weren’t killed.

  41. Eric–No I don’t remember that bus CR&L. Was it a local bus shuttle pre or post Minibus era? Please tell me more!

  42. Eric Buchroeder

    Cathy, it was CR&L for Connecticut Railway and Lighting. They had green buses with gray roofs and a curved rear end. I think they went out of business late sixties and the crisis caused the Minny bus to spring up and fill the void. I know CR&L had a car barn in downtown Norwalk and ran all day and very late at night from Stamford or Darien to Bridgeport up and down the Post Rd. stopping everywhere in between. I was only on one once or twice as a kid there were few Westporters on it and I was scared I think it was mostly used by domestic workers to get back and forth. The Hillbilly Bus was a special daily charter from CR&L that was put together by a bunch of commuter execs who didn’t want to screw around with railroad parking. That’s pretty much all I can remember but I’m sure Tom Allen and some of my other “older brothers” have better memories.
    Eric Trotsky

  43. Eric Buchroeder

    Also, before the buses they operated the old trolley cars you can still see what’s left of the tracks in parts of town.

  44. Eric, I don’t remember the trolley but I remember the tracks that were semi paved over. Was the Trolley Barn on Wall St. in Norwalk the home for “the Hillbilly Bus?” It stood empty for years until it was developed into offices and a restaurant. My family moved to Westport in ’56 so by then the trolley might have been obsolete. Anyway thanks for that bit of history!

  45. Eric Buchroeder

    We had an elderly neighbor who had been a conductor on the old trolley and used to tell stories but it was long gone before the 50’s. I’m thinking the 20’s or 30’s at latest.