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Photo Challenge #279

Last week’s Photo Challenge seemed straightforward: Where would you see a plaque honoring Carl Francis DePalma? Intriguingly, it also included the name “Popeye.”

I expected a few people to know the answer: the golf practice area at Longshore, behind the pro shop.

I did not expect to hear the tragic, poignant back story behind it.

“Popeye” was DePalma’s nickname. He was a bulldozer operator for the town — always friendly and waving. He worked several places, including the town dump and landfill at the site of what’s now the library and Levitt Pavilion, as well as Longshore where the plaque is.

On May 5, 1965 — almost 55 years ago this day — “Popeye” died, when his machine tipped over.

DePalma’s son Billy and his wife Marie now live in Weston. Marie added this: Billy helped the Westport Rotary Club build the bus stop on Canal Street.

When club officials asked how they could thank him, he suggested a plaque at the site of the accident.

Diane Bosch, Michael Calise, Dave Eason, Ann Urciuoli Allard and Andrew Collabella all knew where that important plaque is, and filled in many of those details.

This week’s Photo Challenge is a wistful reminder of days gone by — before social distancing. If you know where in Westport you would have seen this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Leigh Gage)

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