When the Westport Museum for History & Culture jettisoned the nod-to-local-history name of its Remarkable Gift Shop — it’s now the much-more-meh The Shop at Wheeler House — it thankfully did not also toss out the Remarkable Guy.
That’s the wooden, Edward Gorey-inspired dancing figure that greeted folks browsing for books, posters and other Westport-themed gifts at what used to be called the Historical Society, on Avery Place.
The Remarkable Guy had been exhibited at the WHS thanks to the Kramer family. Sid and Esther Kramer owned the Remarkable Book Shop, a long-lived, much-loved funky bookstore on the corner of Main Street and Parker Harding Plaza, a few feet from Wheeler House. (Westporters know it now as the long-vacant Talbots building.)
WMHC officials tracked down Sid and Esther’s son Mark. Executive director Ramin Ganeshram emailed him that the Remarkable Theater — the new organization that hopes to bring a theater to Westport, staffed by people with disabilities — had asked for the “wooden die cut image.”
She suggested Kramer take it from the museum, and give or lend it to the theater for their events. (It is of course still in the early planning stages).
She noted that because the Remarkable Guy had never been “formally gifted or accepted into the collections,” it was not the museum’s right to lend.
Though the museum did not have the funds to ship the Remarkable Guy to Kramer, who lives in Massachusetts, they promised to keep it safe until he could retrieve it.
Or perhaps, Ganeshram said, he could officially donate it to the museum. Then, however, it could not be lent to anyone, because of insurance complications. She noted, “It is our understanding that the figure was brought to the museum but never intended to be an ‘artifact’ per se.”
Kramer worried that the museum might not treasure the Remarkable Guy.
A solution arose when Kramer’s longtime Westport friend Pam Barkentin offered to keep it in Westport, so it can be loaned when appropriate.
Chris O’Dell — whose O Living Experience builds high-quality, high-efficiency new homes and renovations — quickly agreed to move the Remarkable Guy to Pam’s garage. gratis.
That’s where he sits now, safe and sound.
And waiting to be loaned, to lend a bit of local history to organizations that appreciate and cherish him.