It’s been decades since Bill Whitbeck lived in Westport. (Westport, Connecticut, that is. He’s now in the beautiful seaside town of Westport, Washington.)
But he remembers fondly his days on Cockenoe. That’s the island a mile off Compo. (Which Westport now owns, having bought it in 1968 to save it — and us — from a proposal to build a nuclear power plant there. Click here for that unbelievable story.)
Still, he did not realize how many times his family visited Cockenoe until his father died, and the Whitbecks examined thousands of old 35mm slides.
It seemed like every other roll of film taken during the summers showed camping on the island.
The other day, Bill sent some of the images, from 1958 to ’60.
“We brought tents, camping gear and food for the weekend,” Bill recalls. “We’d camp on the western side’s long sandbar. From current photos I’ve seen, it’s almost gone from erosion.”
Other prime campsites were nestled in the trees on the southern side of the island, on higher ground with little trails leading to them. Those sites were usually snatched up first. But if Bill’s family got there early enough on Friday afternoon, they snagged a site for the weekend.
I was struck by the quality of the colors, and composition of the photos. I told Bill that they seemed like a Life magazine spread on the Kennedys at Cape Cod.
“The colors haven’t faded after almost 60 years,” he agrees.
“Kodachrome film used layers of dyes, as opposed to silver halide crystals found in other transparency films, like Ektachrome of Fujichrome. The silver crystals give most film their ‘grain’.”
In 1994, Bill took his dad for one more walk around the island. He died a few years later.