High Point For The Senior Center

I’ve written before of my gratefulness for growing up on High Point Road.

At a mile, Westport’s longest cul-de-sac — and where my parents moved in 1956, when the (then-few) mailboxes were clustered together at Long Lots Road, and their address was not a street number but “Lot 12 East” — was its own true neighborhood.

Dozens of post-war baby boomers rode our bikes up and down High Point. We played games at the “turnaround,” wandered into and out of each other’s houses (and got fed by whoever’s mother happened to be in the kitchen), and gathered in large groups at bus stops (for Burr Farms Elementary School) or to walk (to Long Lots Junior High).

In this 1965 aerial view, Staples High School is on the left. An arrow points to High Point Road — and the house I grew up in.

We had block parties — first on empty lots near where Angora Lane is now, then on the Staples High athletic fields directly behind the homes on the road’s west side.

There was Christmas caroling (with Jewish families joining in), and all-road Halloween events.

Rod Serling and his family celebrating Christmas, at their High Point Road home.

Parents had their own adult-only parties. My mother and many other women formed a garden club, and planted pachysandra up and down the road. A monthly newsletter introduced newcomers to their neighbors, and vice versa.

Like many neighborhoods, the ages of families waxed and waned. Some decades rocked with lots of elementary kids; others were quieter, with far fewer. Eventually younger families moved in, and the cycle continued.

A map of residents through the years. “1954” refers to the first residents.

High Point is still a fantastic neighborhood (even if it’s more difficult for kids to cut through back yards now to get to Staples). But the High Point Road Association — a half-century-old tradition — faded away a few years ago.

There was not enough time (or interest?) among most new families to keep it going. The 2010s and ’20s are not the 1950s and ’60s.

There was just one issue: What to do about the $1,000 that remained in the bank account. It had sat there for years, untouched.

Ulla Atweh — the organization’s last president — had an idea. To honor of some of the older residents — men and women like Peg Nesbitt, Paul Heilman, Walter Eads and my own parents, who had kept the Association going, and the few remaining residents like Judy Weinstock and Estelle Kesselman who are the last links to the past — she gave the money to the Senior Center.

High Point Road continues to evolve. New homes are being built (including where I grew up, which long ago changed from “Lot 12 East” to “#34). New families are moving in.

Times change.

Maybe one day they’ll start a new High Point Association. For right now though, the Senior Center is richer, thanks to the generosity of this remarkable road.

Happy, friendly High Point Road residents, in 2019.

 

9 responses to “High Point For The Senior Center

  1. Jonathan Prager

    Touching story, Dan.

    Beautiful paen to the value and wonder of being raised in a true neighborhood where people cherish and honor people, just because–or precisely because– they’re neighbors.

    An important tribute to human values in a Westport which is fast becoming “condominium-ized”; in which neighborly warmth is all too often being devalued and lost.

    Thanks for reminding us of the priority of down home personal connection.

  2. Dan, Great read on Highpoint history. Cannot remember if I’ve shared w/ u? But, my sister is married to Mike Weinstock who grew up on Highpoint, too. U mention Judy Weinstock, my sisters Mother In-Law. I will share this w/ all the remaining Weinstock’s. One of my favorite sayings is: “It’s a small world, & getting smaller.” Thx & c u @ the Y

  3. Beth Berkowitz

    I love this story and especially the artistic quality of the map and the handwriting for the name. The best though is the poem on the map welcoming new neighbors and honoring past neighbors. Whoever updated it had the same handwriting as the original. Love that renters were also included. I wish that more people took the time to get to know their neighbors and were happy to be part of a community like that! What a wonderful way to grow up! A great tribute to the original families who started the tradition and organized the association and the others who kept it going for so long.

  4. Roseann Spengler

    Lovely gesture. We lived at #52 High Point Rd. in the late 70s with a couple of little ones and stayed for about 5 years, then moved to Greens Farms. I see on the map that another Spengler family lived at #52, a very long time ago. Interesting. No relation to us.

  5. I forgot to mention Bunny Thompson and her late husband John as part of the original associations
    High Point is still a special place and I love seeing all the new children

  6. Roseann Spengler

    It’s says Jocqmin Spengler; not our name. Is the map incorrect?

  7. The Baby Boom was the “high point” of kids growing up interacting with their neighbors. Just about every house on your street had kids your age, and parents let you go out and play without helicoptering! It was the rule then and the rare exception today.

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