Roundup: Grace Salmon Park, Garbage, Gerber Baby …

The other day, David Meth was at the transfer station. He saw a resident take 2 perfectly good children’s bikes from her SUV. He writes:

“I offered to take them to Cycle Dynamics because Charlie, the owner, donates them to churches in Bridgeport. However the attendant, who was very nice and very afraid to get in trouble because there are cameras everywhere, refused to allow me to take them because they were placed on the ground near the attendant’s booth.

“These bikes were in excellent condition. Why allow them to be trashed? Why not have an area to ‘exchange’ items that could sustain a small economy elsewhere, yet are thrown away here without another thought. It is very wrong.

“Cardboard, glass, cans and paper are recycled for future use. Food scraps are recycled. Leaves and brush are recycled. Why not recycle perfectly good, even repairable goods and equipment, to benefit others?

“This is an awful policy in a town that prides itself in helping others. It can be changed, and it should change soon.”

Sign at the transfer station.

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Speaking of trash:

A reader who loves Grace Salmon Park — but thinks it needs a bit of care — sent several photos of benches overgrown with weeds. Here are 2:

He adds: “Want a seat by the river? Bring your Claritin.”

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Ann Turner Cook — the original Gerber baby — died Friday. She was 95 years old.

The reason that’s “06880”-worthy is that — nearly 100 years ago — the iconic sketch was “born” here.

In 1927, artist Dorothy Hope Smith made a charcoal drawing of her 4-month-old neighbor, Ann Turner. Ann’s father, Leslie, was an artist too; his comic strip “Wash Tubbs and Captain Easy” ran in 500 newspapers every day.

The original charcoal sketch of Ann Turner, and Ann Turner Cook today.

The original charcoal sketch of Ann Turner, and Ann Turner Cook in 2010.

The next year, Gerber needed a face for its new line of baby foods. Smith entered her simple drawing in the contest. She competed with elaborate oil paintings — but the company loved it. By 1931, Ann Cook was the “official trademark.”

She was on every Gerber ad, and on every package, since.

But no one knew her. In fact — in an effort to appeal to both sexes — for many years Gerber did not even say if the baby was a girl or boy.

As years passed, several women claimed to be the Gerber baby. To end the discussion, Gerber paid Turner — by then married, named Ann Cook –$5,000 in 1951. That’s all she got — no royalties, nothing. (It’s better than Smith, though. She earned just $300 for her efforts.)

The Gerber baby at work -- and all grown up today.

The Gerber baby at work — and all grown up, some years ago.

Cook left Westport long ago. She had 4 children, and spent 26 years teaching literature and writing in  Tampa. After retiring in 1989, she wrote 2 mystery novels.

But nearly a decade ago, when she was 88, she was rediscovered. Oprah profiled Cook on her “Where Are They Now?” series. Huffington Post picked up the story.

Neither Oprah nor HuffPo mentions Westport. Nor does the official Gerber website. ( For a full obituary, click here. Hat tips: Deej Webb and Jonathan McClure)

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“Challenger Recognition Day” is always fun.

The Westport Baseball program for players with disabilities includes an announcer introducing each batter, and calling play-by-play. Dustin Lowman did the honors, and hit it out of the park.

A pizza party ends the day.

Congrats to all who made yesterday possible — and a tip of the baseball hat to all the players!

Jonah Atienza and his dad. (Photo.Beth Cody)

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Yesterday’s 1st-ever Drag Show was anything but a drag.

A sold-out crowd at MoCA Westport — including many families with young kids — enjoyed 4 drag queens who strutted, danced, engaged the audience and even provided a bit of LGBTQ history.

The event was sponsored by Westport Pride. Next up: a townwide Pride Month celebration on Jesup Green, next Sunday (1 to 3 p.m.).

Getting in the swing of things. (Photo/Jerri Graham)

Weston High School senior Zac Mathias served as MC. (Photo/Jerri Graham)

Ambrosia Black (Photo/Jerri Graham)

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The Westport Book Shop’s guest exhibitor for June is Kerstin Rao.

Known to many for her years as a gifted teacher of gifted students at Bedford Middle School, Rao is displaying 4 prints, plus a QR code through which you can see each piece being created via time-lapse video.

Rao’s work is hyper-local. Her pieces begin at the Westport Farmers’ Market. They’re scanned in Westport, and printed in Norwalk. Her art business, Vivid Cottage, offers luxury stationery and home good based on her original artwork. It’s available online, and at the Westport Book Shop.

Rao majored in fine art at Vassar, and earned a master’s in special education at Bank Street College. She moved from teaching to art during the pandemic. She also volunteers at the Westport Library, facilitating author panels and book talks, helping and helping plan events. She was a founding member of Westport’s Maker Faire.

Kerstin Rao, with her prints at the Westport Book Shop.

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Speaking of art: MoCA’s next show — “Women Pulling at the Threads of Social Discourse” — is a collaboration with The Contemporary Art Modern Project (The CAMP Gallery) and the Fiber Artists Miami Association. It explores how female artists, utilizing textiles as their medium, subvert the social expectation of crafting by lambasting this soft medium with political and social awareness.

It opens June 30 with a 6-8 p.m. reception, and runs through September 4.

Several local artists are in the exhibition, including Camille Eskell, Susan Feliciano,  Sooo-z Mastropietro and Norma Minkowitz

For more information, email liz@mocawestport.org or call 203-222-7070.

“Red, White, and Pink: The Colors of Politics” (Laetitia Adam-Rabel). Thread, yarn, ink, acrylic on canvas.

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On a windy, rainy Friday, Westporter Nathalie Jacob was on a boat with a friend. Suddenly — off the Darien shore — she realized her Gill sailing jacket (with iPhone 11max in its pocket) was gone.

She figured a gust of wind blew it into the water. The weight of the phone must have pulled it to the bottom of the Sound.

Her friend tried “Find My Phone.” Nada. Nathalie figured it was gone forever.

But 12 days later, her husband got a call. The caller said he’d spotted the jacket that day, in Westport waters — a mile from shore. He found the phone, took it home, plugged it in — and called the emergency contact number on it.

That’s right: After nearly 2 weeks in salty, wavy water, the iPhone still worked.

The jacket was full of live crabs and seaweed, Nathalie adds. But after 3 washing cycles, it’s usable too. She loves her Gill jacket.

PS: She brought a bottle of whiskey to the man who found it.

Nathalie Jacob …

… and her Gill jacket and iPhone.

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Staples High School’s senior prom — the first “normal” one after 2 COVID years — was held last night at the Greenwich Hyatt.

Most attendees were too busy having fun to take photos. But “06880”s great senior intern, Lyah Muktavaram, sent this photo along.

I’ve heard from 3 students who were there that it was a great one. I’m sure when they wake up — late this afternoon? — they’ll enjoy this image.

(Photo/Lyah Muktavaram)

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Nile Rodgers’ home here is still on the market.

To avoid realtors being there when realtors showed potential home-buyers through the house — or, more probably, because who can turn down an invitation from Buckingham Palace? — the international recording star/producer was in London, not Westport, last night.

He had an important gig: performing at Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee coocert.

Just one more day in the life of our soon-to-be-former neighbor.

Nile Rodgers, at the Queen’s Jubilee. (Photo/Ellen Wentworth)

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Former Westport Woman’s Club president Natacha “Nat” Sylander died last month. She was 86.

The Auburn, New York native earned her bachelor’s degree in hotel management from Michigan State University. She then moved to Chicago to work at the Palmer House.

In 1960 she married Dick Sylander, and became a mom. In 1967 the family moved to Westport, where they lived for 44 years. She was a teaching assistant at Bedford Elementary School before starting a company with her husband in 1976. R.L. Sylander Associates did custom computer circulation fulfillment. They ran it for 25 years, until they retired.

Nat was active in the community, including president of the Westport Woman’s Club and chair of the Yankee Doodle Fair. She was a member of the St. Luke Church choir for many years. She was a wonderful cook and loved to entertain, with a flair for storytelling.

She is survived by her children, Rick of Milford, Karen of Chicago and Beth of Long Island; as well as a grandson, Owen Hammond, serving overseas in the Army.

A funeral service is set for Saturday, June 11 (11 a.m., St. Luke Church) with a Mass of Christian Burial. A reception follows immediately. Interment will be private. Condolences may be left online. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Westport Woman’s Club Scholarship Program, 44 Imperial Ave, Westport, CT 06880.

Nat Sylander

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This guy crawled onto Molly Alger’s deck, then posed for his “Westport … Naturally” closeup:

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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And finally … one famous “baby” deserves another:

 

21 responses to “Roundup: Grace Salmon Park, Garbage, Gerber Baby …

  1. My sincere thanks to David Meth for spotlighting the issue of recycling. I have also witnessed perfectly good items being dumped at the transfer station. In his example some less fortunate children would get gifts that they’d never forget and our transfer station would have to dispose of that much less waste.
    There should be a section of the facility specifically devoted to those things that someone else could use. Do items magically turn from useful to useless the moment they are deposited at the station?

    • When I lived in Westport I used to bring good stuff back from the Dump (“Transfer Station”) quite regularly. I know some officials deny this but it was quite common. One thing I brought back was the original road sign for Newtown Ave. and Broad St. which I still have.

  2. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    Better yet, rather than just dumping off the detritus of an overly privileged life at the transfer station, maybe the original owner could consider a little direct association with the less privileged and offer the object(s) of scorn to someone truly in need. As I recall, Bridgeport is within an easy fast charge via Tesla so no one’s carbon footprint needs to feel threatened.

  3. Alexis Senoski

    The town I grew up in has a “swap” at the transfer station. It works wonderfully.
    https://www.town.medfield.net/1720/SWAP-Area

  4. To follow up on Ann Turner and the Gerber Baby story, the Westport artist Dorothy Hope Smith who drew the Gerber Baby was better known in town by her married name, Dorothy Barlow. And she was my mother.

    • Peter makes an important addition, of course. But Dan, I am impressed how much you’ve told me about Ann Turner that I did not know. I always focused on Peter’s parents.

  5. Before the no scavenging policy, I grabbed a few bikes from the transfer station. Recently, I had to get rid of a couple of bikes and I put them in front of my home with a “free” sign. Within 5 minutes, the bikes were gone.

  6. There’s a Facebook group called “Westport Gift Economy” for giveaways. Some of the little parks around town really need some weeding & sprucing up. It’s disappointing that the town’s “sign police” have allowed junky unauthorized signs all over town.

  7. Rindy Higgins

    I agree with you, David. I’m wondering if the transfer station makes money reselling things? I have a cabin in MA and anything at the dump is for the taking.Even though there are some other alternatives here, I think it would be a good idea at the transfer station.

  8. Emily Mikesell

    Yes! Change transfer station policy! In addition to fb groups, direct donation, and “free” signs on lawns, there’s no good reason why this path of least resistance option, particularly after a sale or clean-out shouldn’t exist. How can we make it happen?

  9. Christine Croarkin

    When I lived in Switzerland, one of my favorite places was the dump. It was meticulously organized and managed by a very pleasant and helpful woman. There was even a barrel where you could leave stale bread for sheep.

    The best part about my dump was the little shed where people would leave items they no longer wanted but were still serviceable. I left and took, several items from that shed. Many, I treasure; like the red deer antler, or the Quimper hot plate. What a wonderfully, economic, environmentally healthy, and community-minded concept. I asked my dump director here in New Canaan to consider this. But the reply was: “We don’t want scavengers”. Well, scavenging is good for a town, and good for the planet.

    • Great points, Christine. And I would ask the dump director: “What’s wrong with scavengers?” Unless that’s a euphemism for something else.

      • Perhaps a liability concern…just a guess? Say someone searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack may accidentally find that non-proverbial needle, or cut their leg from an unseen protruding piece of sheet metal while digging for their treasure. Then the lawsuits begin, and everyone screams “their should have been a sign saying ‘no scavenging’”

  10. Patricia Blaufuss

    Check out Freecycle.org. I’ve used it many times to get unneeded stuff into welcoming hands.

  11. Patricia McMahon

    Grace Salmon us in need of some TLC.
    It’s a little gem location in our town and needs a good mow.

    • Werner Liepolt

      I passed by the three benches today. Each has a plaque commemorating a Westporter. It seems a bit more than shameful that these families’ donations are treated with so little regard.

  12. Re: Grace Salmon, Barons South, Winslow, etc: why the Town of Westport is so dedicated to the undermaintenance of our parks is an enduring mystery. It would appear that the new administration is equally committed to that unfortunate tradition.

  13. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. That is the mantra of helping to save the planet. The policy at the transfer station should reflect our claimed commitment to saving the planet. Let people take (reuse) items left at the transfer station. The benefits are clear; help me understand the harm. Anyone at Town Hall listening?

  14. If you have bicycles that needs a new home, there is a great charity Northeast Community Cycles http://www.necommunitycycles.org/ that has collected, refurbished over 6,500 bicycles to those in need. Please contact them if you have a bicycle that can be recycled

  15. Commenting on the first part of this blog: the transfer station. There are TWO ways to recycle perfectly good stuff you no longer want. They are both Facebook groups. One is called “Buy Nothing Westport” and the other is “Westport Gift Exchange.” I was happy to give away my mother-of-the-bride dress (orig. cost $800) to someone who could use it. Also, gave away 2 working heaters. Conversely, I was the recipient of organically grown bay leaves. Check out those groups.

  16. Christine Croarkin

    “Scavengers” is definitely a euphemism for undesirables. There are many people who cannot afford to shop at Goodwill, or local thrifties.The best part of recycling items at the dump is that it is free, and convenient. It also fosters a community desire to donate, receive and re-donate again at no cost, and without the need for internet services. Used vacuum cleaners, appliances, computer parts, kitchen utensils, dish and glassware sets, and children’s toys are just some examples. My former dump and my sister’s in VT, carefully manage donated items that are set out on tables in a separate shed, not in dump piles to avoid the danger of people sifting through garage.

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