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Paul Newman Says: Research. Register. Vote!

During his 50-plus years in Westport, Paul Newman was everywhere in town.

We saw him in supermarkets, shops and restaurants. He picked up hitchhikers. When I played summer soccer, his helicopter landed on the Coleytown Junior High School field (we scattered first). “Hi boys!” he said as he hopped out — wearing shorts, carrying a briefcase — and walked around the corner to his home.

Paul Newman, in a photo project promoting community involvement. (Photo by Robert Satter)

The actor/philanthropist/race car driver/all-around great guy died in 2008. But this Saturday, he returns to Main Street.

Once again, he’ll do something great — for his town and his country.

Newman’s daughter Melissa is a giver in her own right. For 20 yeas, she volunteered at a woman’s prison.

She was casual friends with a social worker there. For 2 years, he said he had a present for her. Finally — a decade or so ago — he handed her the gift.

It was a framed poster of her father. Looking straight at the camera — and pointing sternly — the young actor urged all “Young Citizens for Johnson” to register to vote.

Melissa had never seen that poster. “It was one of the best presents I ever got,” she says. She hung it on her kitchen wall. It’s been there ever since.

Melissa always wanted to share the poster’s message — register and vote! — with a broader audience. Now she’s got her chance.

In these polarized times, she wants the poster to be non-partisan. Besides, LBJ is no longer on the ballot.

So Melissa enlisted her friend Miggs Burroughs to help. The talented graphic designer changed the message to “Research. Register. Vote.”

Last weekend, Melissa handed out copies of the poster on Main Street, near Brooks Corner. She’ll be there this Saturday (August 29) too, at 12;30 p.m. — complete with mask and hand sanitizer.

“I’m literally a poster child for voting,” she laughs.

She hopes everyone — whatever their political affiliation — will pick up a flyer, reminding themselves to register and vote.

And why not? It’s one more Paul Newman/Westport story to add to our list.

Melissa Newman last weekend, with her poster on Main Street near Elm.

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