Mark Kramer spent 3 decades as a writer-in residence at Smith College, Boston University and Harvard’s Nieman Foundation. He also enjoyed a storied career as a book and magazine writer, editor, speaker and consultant.
Mark has not lived in Westport since graduating from Staples High School in 1961. But — as an alert “06880” reader — he notes from afar that “the Saugatuck (Cribari) Bridge is threatened by traffic and time.”
It meant a lot to his childhood — and the town. In 2018, he had an idea for the Cribari Bridge. Following the state Department of Transportation’s recent decision to build a new bridge — or hand it over to the town, which would be responsible for its repair, maintenance and upkeep — Mark revisits that idea. He writes:
The bridge over the Saugatuck is dear to me.
I rode across it every evening — in my pajamas, for quite a stretch — fetching my father (Sidney Kramer, of Save Westport Now and The Remarkable Bookshop) from the 6:12 back from Manhattan.
I fished from it, and kept a dinghy in the swamp grass almost beneath it when I was older.
I watched a crack crew of guys who worked in Saugatuck crank it open with manpower to let boats pass. It’s a human-sized bridge, an amenity to a town where people can still encounter one another on the streets and nod and chat.
I lived for a long time in north-central Massachusetts near Shelburne Falls. There was a trolley bridge over the Deerfield River, and trollies went obsolete. The cement-arched bridge languished for a while.
Then in the ’70s, a visionary group of merchants and neighbors planted it with flowers. It was a hobby at first, but soon enough turned into a business-attracting phenomenon, lavishly planted with a sequence of blooming plants so that from May through October, it now (until a year ago, and starting up again, one hopes, this summer, as the COVID crisis gives way to vaccines and good habits) attracts crowds.
They support some good restaurants, craft shops and clothing stores. Westport is less rural, and more vigorously entrepreneurial, and it’s not hard to imagine a development of the Cribari bridge in its own right–perhaps flowers, perhaps eateries, a bandstand, food stalls, and flowers too.
If this intrigued the right group of Westporters, a trip up there would certainly set imaginations going. A committee of neighbors keeps it going, and they’d be glad to share their experience.
Click here for the Bridge of Flowers website. For more information and personal insights, email Mark directly: email@example.com.