Fred Cantor: The View From Not Far

Alert — and avid — “06880” reader Fred Cantor enjoyed a recent post by Mike Joseph.

Cantor’s 1971 Staples High School classmate compared and contrasted his life now in Kansas City, with his hometown.

Cantor did not move as far. But he has his own tale to tell.

I enjoyed the piece written by my Staples ‘71 classmate, Mike Joseph, about the affordability of Kansas City and the option it presents in flyover country to living in Westport, where the cost of housing in particular has gone through the roof.

But I wanted to note that you can stay in the area in what were, for my wife and me, drive-through towns (on the Merritt, I-95 or Route 8), and find much more affordable home options as well.

This was exemplified by our recent move to a senior community in Stratford, where you can find nice condos at much lower prices than in Westport. The real estate taxes are higher, but the price differential more than compensates for that.

Fred Cantor and Debbie Silberstein’s Stratford condo.

There are some Westport-like amenities, such as a nice main town beach that even has a par-3 golf course. But what have been among the most pleasant discoveries are the types of area features we never would have seen simply traveling through on the highway.

For example, a traditional New England town green — Paradise Green — has a classic gazebo. It has been the site of summer concerts and a farmer’s market. Adjacent to the Green is a shopping district whose eclectic group of smaller shops includes an old-fashioned mom-and-pop bakery, Icing on the Cake.

Paradise Green gazebo.

We recently got curbside pickup of 2 brownies, 1 cannoli, a corn muffin, scone and Vermont hazelnut coffee — all for $10.40.

Holy cow! I felt as if I had been transported to Westport’s Main Street of decades ago.

Stratford also has a distinctive town park, Boothe Memorial, which sits on a bluff high above the Housatonic River.

In addition to offering nice grounds for a picnic and lovely views, it has an unusual array of historical attractions, like a section of the former Merritt toll plaza, plus a replica railway station/museum with indoor and outdoor model railway tracks that feature old New Haven Railroad trains.

Fred Cantor, at the Boothe Memorial Park Merritt Parkway toll plaza exhibit.

Being in the very north end of Stratford, taking advantage of amenities and attractions in neighboring Shelton is a breeze — exemplified by the fact that, in contrast to Westport, we have never encountered traffic problems doing curbside pickup at the nearby supermarket and other shopping venues.

The absence of significant traffic backups has been about the most dramatic change we have experienced.

For those who might miss old Westport restaurant standbys, there is a Spotted Horse very close by.

While living in Westport, we loved doing scenic drives to the Saugatuck Reservoir in Weston or Aspetuck Orchard in Easton. Here, the scenic Trap Falls Reservoir in Shelton is a short drive from our new condo. Amazingly, so are massive working farms such as the Jones Family Farms with 400 acres. And yes, they have farm stands.

Roosevelt Forest in the northern part of Stratford, visible to us on our drive to nearby shopping, is also roughly 400 acres.

The amount of open and undeveloped land has been a real eye-opener. Quite frankly, it far surpasses anything that existed even in the Westport of my youth when my family moved to town in 1963.

Now, if only Stratford had Southern California-like winter weather…

(“06880” welcomes contributions from readers — stories, and cash. Please click here to help. Thank you!)

14 responses to “Fred Cantor: The View From Not Far

  1. Fred. Don’t miss Wells Hollow Creamery. For both ice cream, farm stand and plants.

    • Diane, thanks for the recommendation. We have passed by that and, coincidentally, just a couple of days ago Debbie said she wanted to check out their plants in the coming week. Thanks again.

  2. As many newcomers, especially those fleeing The City, speak of Westport as a small (New England?) town, it is nice to think so, but it is not. Westport is BIG CITY with a small footprint, getting smaller and smaller within. Soon, there will have to be a congestive surcharge for driving alone. With the new developments crunching our town like plaque in an artery because of 8-30g, it’s going to get much worse. The apartments being built at Canal Road and Rt. 33, on what can only be seen as wetlands from any view passing by since you can cast a fishing line from any window to the Saugatuck river, is a massive failure by the state. Add the other large complexes being built, and our status as what used to be a “small” town has disappeared. Just drive in and out of any parking lot, just as Trader Joe’s which are thoughtlessly designed with 4-way traffic in by the entrance. The addition of outdoor dining on Church Lane, Main Street, and by the train station is quite lovely and refreshing, as are the cafes and Westport Bookshop. Nice Greenwich Village touch, but as much as Westport stands for its neighborly and artistic days long gone, like the rest of the world, those days and life are never coming back.

  3. Richard Fogel

    I love Westport

  4. Fred, what community did you move to?

    • Oronoque Village (which has attracted other Westporters over the years). But there are other nice options in Stratford as well.

  5. Hi Fred….we moved to OV 3 years ago from Westport . I’m a Staples class of 1967 graduate and grew up there my entire life.
    You can find our number in the Village directory. It would be fun to remember “the good old days…”

  6. Nice to hear from my friends and law school classmates, Fred and Debbie. Best wishes!

  7. Peter Tomasulo

    Have you moved to Oronoque Village Fred? I’ve lived here for 2 1/2 years. It’s quite nice.

    • We moved here recently but are still unpacking boxes from when we sold our home on Drumlin 5 years ago. With you and Kathy and I heard about a member of the class of ‘69—and who knows how many others?—I’m surprised I haven’t been stopped when I’ve worn my Staples baseball cap during my daily walks.😐 And, Ira, thanks.

  8. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    I remember when Oronoque was built. It’s aged well (as have you).

    • Eric, that’s very kind of you (but you aren’t seeing the ample bald space on top of my head that I am protecting from the sun with my cap). I have zero recollection of when Oronoque was being built although I was right next door on my 17th birthday when my parents took me to the Mermaid Tavern and I got a Spiro Agnew watch (which was my bday request).

  9. Fred sounds like you’ve found yourself a dandy little situation. Mazel! Tg

  10. Tommy, thanks.

Leave a Reply