The dog days of summer brought a doggone-easy photo challenge.
Last week’s image — of the brick wall between the Compo Beach lockers and Joey’s, damaged during Hurricane Sandy — was quickly and easily identified by Andrew Colabella, Kathi Sherman, Rich Stein, Brandon Malin, Matt Murray, Jonathan McClure, Susan Huppi, Billy Scalzi, Jill Turner Odice and Rebecca Wolin. (Click here for the shot; then scroll down for comments.)
This week’s photo comes courtesy of Peter Tulupman. If you know where it is, click “Comments” below — and add any details you can.
“06880” reader Ellen Bowen recently visited Sherwood Island State Park. She was stunned at the condition of the state’s official 9/11 memorial. Among the Connecticut residents honored there are several Westporters.
With the 15th anniversary of that tragic day near, Ellen writes:
Imagine my surprise and disgust to find the plaques covered with goose poop, and the walkways and grassy areas (including near the water fountain and picnic area) overrun and filled with weeds. The condition was disgusting. And I paid $9 to park.
I am appalled and saddened that a beautiful and contemplative place remembering the victims and heroes who lost their lives that day has become an embarrassment to our town and the state of Connecticut. I will share some of the pictures I took with the Friends of Sherwood Island, local and state government officials, and anyone else I can think of.
I hope they clean it up in time for the governor and 9/11 families’ visit, and the memorial service, on September 8. But I sincerely hope they consider maintaining the memorial on a year-round basis, and not just “for show.”
George Marks Sr. — the former police officer who marched, ramrod straight, in dozens of Memorial Day parades, and then rode with grace and dignity in many more — passed away in Norwalk Hospital. He was 96.
One of his greatest honors came in 2010. He and his son, George Marks Jr. — also a former police officer, who looked like he could have been his father’s brother — served as dual grand marshals of the annual parade.
At the 2010 Memorial Day ceremony (from left): First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, and grand marshals George Marks Jr. and Sr. (though it’s hard to tell which is which).
George Marks Sr. was born in Brooklyn. But he moved here with his parents at age 2, so calling him a “native Westporter” is no stretch.
He graduated from Staples High School on Riverside Avenue in 1938, then worked as a pressman for the Westporter Herald. In 1940 — as war loomed — he joined the Merchant Marine as a navigation officer.
His first ship left New York and stopped in Baltimore for refueling. While there, Marks became sick and was hospitalized.
Shortly after leaving port, the ship was hit by a German torpedo. All aboard were killed. Marks served on other ships crossing the Atlantic, loaded with troops and supplies. In 1944 he participated in the D-Day landing at Normandy.
George Marks Sr.
Marks joined the Westport Police Department in 1948. He rose to the rank of lieutenant detective before retiring in 1974. He then joined Westport Bank and Trust as a security officer, continuing his familiar presence in town.
Marks was president of the Westport Fish & Game Club. He also was a life member of Temple Lodge No. 75 AF&AM, a member of the American Legion, an original member of Westport PAL, and a 20-year volunteer at Norwalk Hospital.
Survivors include 2 sons — George Marks Jr., who retired from the police department in 2006, and his wife Jacqueline of Seabrook, South Carolina, and William D. Marks and his wife Sandra of Missoula, Montana — his daughter Sandra M. Marks of Tucson, Arizona; 4 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren.
The family will receive friends tomorrow (Sunday, August 28, 4 to 8 p.m.) in the Harding Funeral Home. Graveside services with full military honors will take place Monday, August 29 (10 a.m.) at Willowbrook Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to Alzheimers Association of Connecticut, 200 Executive Boulevard, Suite 4-B, Southington, CT 06489.
If you’re new to Connecticut, you may not know about our charter oak. They don’t teach state history in school — I don’t think so, anyway — and most of the state quarters that were minted nearly 20 years ago are out of circulation.
But longtime residents know the charter oak. And one of its descendants may still live in Westport.
The story involves a large white oak tree that dates back to the 12th or 13th century. Apparently our royal charter — given by King Charles in 1662, to the Connecticut colony — was hidden in a hollow in 1687, to prevent the governor-general from revoking it.
Connecticut’s charter oak.
The tree was destroyed in 1856, during a strong storm. But its legend remains.
So, supposedly, do many of its seedlings.
In 1965, a “Committee for the location and care of the Charter Oak Tree” was formed. Its purpose was to “accept the seedling descendant of the Charter Oak from Mr. John Davis Lodge, care for it during the winter, select a location in which it can be planted in the Spring, and organize a planting ceremony.”
Lodge — a former governor of Connecticut and ambassador to Spain, and future ambassador to Argentina and Switzerland — lived in Westport.
Minutes of a November 20, 1965 meeting show that a seedling was intended to be donated to Staples High School in the spring.
Legend has it that the seedling was planted in the school courtyard on North Avenue. No one today knows authoritatively if that was done, or exactly where. If it ever existed, it was bulldozed away during construction of the new building more than a decade ago.
The committee also discussed the best location for another seedling, downtown. Members — including representatives of the RTM, Westport Garden Club, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion and Daughters of the American Revolution — agreed that Jesup Green was the best area. It could be “the first step in setting a centrally located civic center.”
Discussion then turned to the erection of a plaque, commemorating the gift to the town by Lodge.
“It was agreed that watering and care after the planting should be delegated to a Town employee who would be responsible for its care,” meeting notes read.
Arbor Day in April was suggested as a good time for the planting, and that school children should be involved.
The committee then went outdoors to study possible locations. They agreed to store the 2 seedling oaks in the “cold barn cellar” of Parsell’s Nursery. Garden center owner and civic volunteer Alan U. Parsell was a committee member.
And that’s the last bit of information I dug up about Westport’s charter oak.
It’s one of the little things that make Westport special.
Frederic Chiu has known Joshua Bell since they were kids in Indiana. So when Chiu — an internationally renowned pianist — asked the universally acclaimed violinist to help celebrate the 5th anniversary of Beechwood Arts & Innovation, Chiu’s innovative, immersive arts-and-culinary salon, Bell’s answer was “of course!”
Which is how last night, Saugatuck Congregational Church hosted an intimate concert of world-class music.
Joshua Bell, on the Saugatuck Church stage.
Chiu and his wife Jeanine Esposito hold most Beechwood events in their handsome 1806 Weston Road home (highlighted by a spectacular 300-year-old copper beach beech tree). But the Bell venue needed a somewhat bigger venue, and Saugatuck Church was happy to help.
Chiu and Bell (on his 1713 Stradivarius) performed Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” sonata and the rousing “Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs)” by Sarasate. They were joined by soprano Larisa Martinez for numbers by Gounod and Puccini. The appreciative audience roared its approval after every piece.
Before they played, WQXR’s Elliott Forrest led a conversation with Bell and Chiu. They talked about their long friendship, the rigors of touring — and the importance of arts education for all.
Bell pointed to the balcony, where a number of young musicians sat. Their seats were sponsored by area residents, whom the violinist praised for their generosity.
Westporters sometimes wonder whether we’ve lost a bit of our arts heritage.
Chiu’s appearance last night with his friend — and their stunning performance — proved we’re still at the top of our game.
The other day, amateur historian Bob Weingarten published a story in Greens Farms Living magazine.
Read the previous sentence carefully.
The publication calls itself Greens Farms. Not Green’s Farms. Or Greensfarms.
Punctuation matters. And the punctuation of Westport’s oldest section of town was the subject of Weingarten’s piece.
I’m interested. From time to time, I’ve referred to that neighborhood in several ways. I never knew the answer — and never knew how to find out.
Weingarten quotes author Woody Klein, who called John Green “the largest landholder” among the 5 Bankside Farmers who in the late 1600s settled around what is now Beachside Avenue (the “banks” of Long Island Sound).
This is where the Bankside Farmers first worked the land. It looks a bit different today.
The area was called Green’s Farms. But in 1732 it was changed to Greens Farms because, Klein says, Fairfield — the town of which it was part — did not want “any individual landholder to become too independent.”
The plural form, Weingarten writes, could mean either that Green had more than one farm, or that it was “adopted from the multiple farms of the Bankside Farmers.” So Greens Farms it was.
Except in property deeds, which referred to “the Parish of Greensfarms.”
However, in 1842 — when the parish was incorporated into the 7-year-old town of Westport — the spelling became Green’s Farms.
The church of the same name adopted the apostrophe. Today it sometimes uses one, sometimes not. Sometimes on the same web page.
The church — with or without an apostrophe.
Confusion continued, though. For decades thereafter, official documents and maps referred to both Green’s Farms and Greens Farms.
Weingarten also mentions two streets: Green’s Farms Road and Greens Farms Hollow.
The state Department of Transporation has used both spellings — and a 3rd: Green Farms, for the Metro-North station.
Weingarten cites one more example. The post office near the train station uses the apostrophe spelling on one sign, the non-apostrophe on another.
This is definitely not one of the options.
Weingarten favors Green’s Farms. So do I.
But “06880” is a democracy. So — even though the zip code is 06838 — we’ll put it to a vote. Click the poll below — and add “Comments too.”
All you have to lose is an apostrophe.
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Nearly 2 years ago, a pack of feral cats caused havoc near Compo Beach. Finally, police and PAWS came to the rescue.
Now the cats are back.
A few weeks ago, a resident found a cat in his garage. They thought the cute animal was exploring.
But it never left — because it was nursing 4 kittens in the back of the garage.
A feral cat mother in the back of a Compo Beach neighborhood garage.
The resident’s wife — who had volunteered for an animal welfare shelter in New York — knew she needed to get them help. She also had to act quickly: The beach home had been rented, and tenants were arriving in 3 days.
Dorrie Harris — co-founder of TAILS — arrived with another rescuer to safely remove the cats, which will be socialized and placed for adoption.
Dorrie told the homeowners that the cats were feral. Turns out, they came from the same Norwalk Avenue home as before.
Another neighbor’s cat was then attacked by a feral cat, and nearly lost an eye. Her owner is out $2,000 in veterinary fees.
The feral cat woman leaves food for the cats — and other neighborhood animals — with her porch door open.
A neighbor says she is breeding “bazillions” of kittens. They overrun porches and cars, and leave messes everywhere.
The feral owner has had issues with hoarding — and been helped by the town. Neighbors — who are sympathetic to her blight plight, but also fed up — find the cat problem tougher to solve.
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