Tim Hayes is a clinical psychologist in Syracuse. He got his undergraduate degree in 1982, and earned a Ph.D. at the State University of New York-Binghamton. He has not lived in Westport for decades (though his mother is still here).
But he often think of his hometown.
As the Staples High School Class of 1977 graduate and his wife begin to plan for retirement, he realizes that where he is today is a direct result of where he grew up. He believes he’d be a very different person even if he was raised in Fairfield or Norwalk.
Tim was born and raised in Greens Farms. “His” Westport was beautiful and idyllic. Within a 3-mile radius were the “wonderlands” of Burying Hill Beach (his “personal playground”), Long Lots Junior High, Staples, downtown Westport, and much more.
He put on his first Little League uniform, instantly transforming himself into “a new personality: a baseball player.” The program had a profound impact, from the coaching he received to playing at beautiful Gault Field, on the Saugatuck River.
He starred at Staples. Coach Brian Kelley called him the best player he’d seen since Bobby Valentine. Tim earned a full Division I scholarship to Kelley’s alma mater, Seton Hall University.
“My family could not afford college for me,” Tim says. “But baseball paid for my education. I believe Westport helped that to come about.”
Growing up here, Tim says he was surrounded by wealthy and famous people. But they were regular folks. When Andy Jones encouraged Tim to skip school and go downtown, Paul Newman and Robert Redford walked by. “No one seemed to care,” Tim says. “That was great.”
His Staples classmates included Harry Reasoner’s daughter Ellen, and Linda Blair (star of “The Exorcist”).
Tim remembers Cindy Bigelow too. The other day, as he and his wife were grocery shopping, her huge photo promoted Bigelow Tea. Her parents bought her a new car for graduation. “That was not my middle class experience in Westport,” he says.
Tim calls Staples “a fabulous high school that I never fully appreciated. Going out into the world, I came to realize that many American high schools did not teach psychology or Latin — my 2 favorite subjects.”
Thanks to 2 long-ago psychology classes taught by Charles Burke, Tim Hayes found his life’s work.
“I write all of this to express my deep gratitude for my beloved hometown, Westport, and my beloved Staples High School,” he writes. “They made me who I am today.”