The Roseville Road home is just about perfect. Built in 1923 on 2 acres of grass and woods, it’s handsome, welcoming and filled with love.
It’s where Linda Gramatky Smith grew up, and her father, Hardie Gramatky — painter/author/illustrator of “Little Toot” fame — worked. It’s where she and her husband Ken still live today.
But no place is perfect.
Linda and Ken’s house sits on the dangerous curve, not far from the McDonald’s intersection at the Post Road. Time after time — often in snow, or at night — drivers end up on the front lawn. In the woods. Or through their stone wall.
Hardie Gramatky moved his family there in 1947. From then through his death in 1979, with unfortunate regularity, they heard the loud bang of a crash.
Homer Mills Sr. — a local mason — told Hardie that the stone wall was “my annuity.” Twice a year, he rebuilt it.
The night Hardie collapsed — he’d just been honored by the American Watercolor Society — the wall was hit again. “This has not bee an good day,” the artist said. He died 2 days later.
In 1982, Linda moved with her mother to New Jersey. She and Ken bought the house, and for the next 11 years they rented it out. They were gone, but the accidents continued.
In 1994 — a year after the couple moved back here, and into their home — a 17-year-old speeder from Weston slammed into the post. His air bag saved his life. Linda and Ken got one for their own car.
When Joe Arcudi — Linda’s 1960 Staples High School classmate — ran for 1st selectman, he promised to do something about the dangerous curve. (He recalled driving fast on the same “Rollercoaster Road” as a rite of passage in his own youth.)
After Arcudi was elected, he and Police Chief William Chiarenzelli met with Linda and Ken. They discussed a stop sign on nearby Colony Road, and a speed bump (there had been one a while earlier on Roseville near Whitney Street, but it was removed after a driver took it too fast and hit his head on his roof).
Ultimately, they settled on a couple of very large yellow signs with big arrows. Those have been a “significant help” in decreasing the number of accidents, Linda says.
But they have not stopped entirely. On Memorial Day morning in 2013, Linda drove out of her garage and felt a bump. It was a large rock.
Looking around, she spotted a car upside down near the woods. Fortunately, no one was still inside.
A 23-year-old from Fairfield had flipped his car the night before, taking out a tree and pushing a rock toward the garage. He’d walked to McDonald’s, where a friend picked him up.
“His insurance company was great,” Linda says.
A couple of Sundays ago, at 12:15 a.m., Linda, Ken and their 9-year-old grandson heard a screech, then a crash.
This time, it was a 20-year-old Westporter. He was charged with traveling too fast, failure to stay in the proper lane, and operating a motor vehicle under suspension and without insurance.
“It’s no longer every 6 months. But it’s still very scary,” Linda says. “People travel too fast. We constantly worry that someone may die.”
“This house has been part of Linda’s family for almost 70 years,” Ken says. “This comes with the territory.”
He has a ritual. When a guest leaves, he walks onto Roseville Road. When the coast is clear, he gives the driver a wave.
That’s not Ken’s idea. For decades, Hardie Gramatky did the same thing.
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