Friday Flashback #349

Westport’s Memorial Day parade has been a town highlight for nearly a century.

But coincidentally, 2 parade photos from the same year — 1965 — popped into my inbox within a few days of each other last week.

One — posted by Paul Ehrismann on Facebook — shows a gaggle of kids and parents, turning the corner from the Post Road (State Street) onto Myrtle Avenue:

Their outfits — today, quite politically incorrect and culturally misappropriated — show they were part of the Westport YMCA’s “Indian Guide” program.

I was never an Indian Guide, so I don’t know whether they learned actual history or stereotypical myths about Machamux, the Pequots, and other people and tribes who lived here nearly 4 centuries ago.

But if I had to guess …

The other photo came from Adam Stolpen:

In 1965, Adam was a Staples High School student — and the one delivering a Memorial Day address. The site for the ceremony in those days was Jesup Green. (Today it’s at Veterans Green, across from Town Hall.)

Others in the photo include Westport resident and former Connecticut Governor John Davis Lodge (all in white, with a Navy cap); World War I veteran and grand marshal E.O. Nigel Cholmeley-Jones (to the right of Governor Lodge, with hands folded), and Temple Israel’s rabbi, Byron T. Rubenstein (seated at far left).

Adam thinks the man in uniform on the far right may be parade director Frank Cunningham.

The Memorial Day parade has endured for years. But over the past few years, attendance has been a bit down.

Yet it’s one of those things that makes Westport feel like a small town — and a very American one.

The parade begins Monday at 9 a.m., at Saugatuck Elementary School. The route takes it down Riverside Avenue, then onto the Post Road and Myrtle Avenue, ending at Town Hall.

A very inspiring ceremony — with brief speeches, patriotic music, a 21-gun salute and a tribute to grand marshal, 99-year-old World War II veteran Ben Pepper — follows, around 10:30 at Veterans Green.

Don’t miss it! And maybe 58 years from now — in 2083 — your picture will be part of a “Friday Flashback” too.

(“06880” is as “Westport” as the Memorial Day parade. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

8 responses to “Friday Flashback #349

  1. Dan, thanks for posting the picture of a horseshoe crab on the beach. I have had a special fondness for these gentle, peaceful creatures since my years as a graduate student in the 1970s, when I did my doctoral dissertation research on horseshoe crab vision. Their eggs are a crucial resource for shorebirds. While not strictly “endangered,” these animals are “threatened,” mainly by over-harvesting for use by the medical device and pharmaceutical industries (an extract of their blue “blood” is used to monitor for contamination by bacterial toxins). If any your readers encounters one “on its back”, it would be helpful to simply pick it up and place it “leg-side” down on the beach, or back in the water. Here’s a link to an up-beat video showing how it is done:

    • The things I (and all our readers) learn on “06880” never ceases to amaze me. Who knew? Well, besides you …

      Thanks for today’s great lesson, Scott!

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

      Hi Scott,
      You were our valedictorian for a reason (and I dragged my knuckles in the hallowed halls of Staples for a different reason – I was born lacking opposable thumbs)
      But who woulda thunk we’d be where we are.
      Glad you’re well and enjoying a life well lived.
      Have a great MDay weekend.
      Eric B

  2. When my first daughter was born, we enrolled in the YMCA’s Indian Princess program. With other dads and daughters, we explored everything and everywhere. I cherish the fine memories of those days and regret that the program was discontinued. Today’s princesses and guides are being cheated out of a terrific bonding experience.

  3. Adam Schwartz

    Though I’ve been away from Westport for many, many years, the Memorial Day Parade is a gem of a memory for me. My mother took my brother and I every year, and in the late 60s I was able to participate as a trombone player, in the front row, of the Coleytown Junior High School Marching Band! Sad to here attendance had lagged the past few years. I hope it ramps back up to become one of Westport residents gems of great memories, as it is for me!

  4. J. Scott Broder

    Dan, thanks for your Friday Flashback # 349 article on Westport’s small town Americana Memorial Day parade! It is one of the many, many reasons why I love this town. Since moving here forty years ago in 1983 I’ve attended practically all of these parades honoring our Veteran’s, various municipal branches of police, fire department, EMS and others. To witness the school bands play patriotic music 🎶 with enthusiasm. Of course the pride watching our kids and other friends children march in their specific sports teams of all ages with excitement! Then gratefully acknowledging the Westport Women’s Club, the exquisite float each year of the Y’Men, Westport’s Rotary Clubs and so many philanthropic groups is just uplifting in positivity. Each year you will find me and my loyal Labrador retriever at the bottom of the staircase to the right side of the town dignitaries in front of Town Hall. So if you’ve been to our Memorial Day parade before, come again to honor those many worthy people and Veterans in our wonderful Westport! If you haven’t been to this parade, Come and revel in the joy of this Westport Memorial Parade, you’ll experience the true meaning of this holiday. Then on to a Barbecue later on in the day 🇺🇸 ❗️

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