Save Cockenoe: Then And Now

Last month, “06880” previewed Walter and Naiad Einsel’s estate sale. I don’t usually promote that stuff — but the longtime local artists’ Victorian farmhouse was filled with thousands of pieces of folk art, antiques, paintings, prints and advertising items. It seemed like a great Westport tale.

Andrew Bentley was one of the many art lovers who was there. He says it was “more like a folk art museum than a house.”

Andrew wandered past mechanical toys, kinetic sculptures and books of illustrations, on into Naiad’s studio. Magic markers, colored pencils and scissors were all in place, as if she had gone downstairs for coffee.

Thumbing through a stack of posters, he spotted a large envelope. Inside was a shimmer of gold and bronze. Removing it, he discovered a beautiful metallic silk-screened “Save Cockenoe Now” poster.

save-cockenoe-now-poster

Bentley knew it was from the late 1960s, when Westporters opposed a plan to build a nuclear power plant on the island just a mile off Compo Beach. (Click here for that full, crazy story.)

But he’d only seen a black-and-white thumbnail-sized image of the poster, in Woody Klein’s book on the history of Westport.

Suddenly, he held an original. After nearly 50 years, he says, “the colors were still electric.”

Andrew turned to the stranger beside him. He explained that the poster represented a perfect confluence of Westport’s artistic heritage, revolutionary spirit and environmental priorities.

Then, in another Westport tradition, he gathered up as many posters as he could find, negotiated a bulk discount, and made a list of friends in town who deserved a gift.

In 1967, Westporters saved Cockenoe.

In 2016, Andrew saved its posters.

Both stories are worth telling.

(PS: Andrew Bentley designed the logo for The Flat — the new Railroad Place spot that mixes design, art and objects with contemporary lighting, accessories and jewelry. Owner Becky Goss has a few framed Save Cockenoe Now posters there, ready for sale.)

 

10 responses to “Save Cockenoe: Then And Now

  1. John F. Suggs

    Well I guess I just glad that I was one of the lucky ones who got there before Andrew did. I happily saw the stack of them and bought one copy of the famous poster (for $5!) and am thrilled to have a piece of that special history of our town. I was just as excited that so many copies were there and available so that others in town could also own one. And I saw several people leaving clutching their own copies alongside me. Kind of disappointing to learn that Andrew bought them all out effectively denying the thrill of the discovery to those that came behind him. (And what kind of “bulk discount” could he have possibly “negotiated”? They were going for $5 each!) Will be curious to see how much “The Flat” is charging for a framed version. I guess this is just part of the long sad history of the commercialization of protest art. Sigh!

  2. Matthew Mandell

    One of these posters has hung in town hall room 102 probably since the the fight. I always like seeing it. Nice to know there are more of them out there.

  3. I have one signed by the artist. They are such a rich part of Westport history. It’s nice to see they are appreciated to this day.

  4. Eric E. Bosch

    That wonderful poster image was also used/placed on campaign pins, that supporters of that epic ‘David & Goliath’ fight against Northeast Utilities wore proudly about town. We still have ours.

  5. Awesome story and I admit to being a bit jealous that I wasn’t there (like Mr. Suggs) to acquire my own print – for $5 no less!. As Andrew Bentley described it, this poster truly represents the confluence of Westport’s artistic heritage, revolutionary spirit and environmental priorities. Such battles continue to arise in Town, the trick is to spot them in real time for what they are, which can be tricky without the benefit of hindsight.

  6. Prill Plantinga Boyle '72

    I’ve always loved that poster! I had it on my bedroom wall all through high school.

  7. Thanks, Dan. Love your column and love Andrew Bentley’s description of the Einsel “Save Cockenoe Now” poster as being a “perfect confluence of Westport’s artistic heritage, revolutionary spirit and environmental priorities”. Andy is a great champion of our town and was so thoughtful to give me a few of the gorgeous posters along with copies of the book, The New Yorker in Westport, to sell at The Flat with all profits on the sale of these two items being donated to the Westport Historical Society.

  8. Wendy Crowther

    I was lucky enough to find one of these posters too, although it was on the last day of the sale. It was buried beneath lots of other artwork samples, trials and errors, first drafts, etc. It had seen better days but it was still an important piece of work and it was sentimental to me. While at the sale, I ran into one of my historic research and preservation colleagues, Melanie Marks. Melanie had worked closely with Naiad Einsel to research and document the history of Naiad’s house in order to have it officially designated as a Local Historic Property. Naiad had told Melanie that she was particularly proud of this poster and what it had helped accomplish.

    Perhaps we should consider designating Naiad’s “Save Cockenoe Now” poster as an LHP – a Local Historic Poster.

    • Amen, Wendy. Naiad was more than preservation and environmental royalty, she was a warm, kind and caring person who reveled in the smallest of details. I’m definitely designating my newly acquired uber pristine Save Cockenoe poster as a LHP!

  9. Our Save Cockenoe Now poster–a gift from Naiad many years ago–hangs proudly at the top of our stairs a long way from Westport, in Kansas.