Author Archives: Dan Woog

Larry Silver Shows New York

Larry Silver’s show at the New-York Historical Society got a shout-out yesterday from the Wall Street Journal.

The Westport photographer’s images — 45 of them, all shot between 1949 and 1955 — are united by the theme of “lingering.”

They show “everyday New Yorkers” at the then-new UN, the old Penn Station, a D’Agostino grocery store, in subway cars, and staring into store windows.

"Boy on Rooftop," 1951

“Boy on Rooftop,” 1951

“There’s something about the black-and-white images, a meditative quality, that captures the era,” the story says.

“You get the sense that whether it was children rafting at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx or even the bright lights of Times Square, the city wasn’t the frenetic place that it is today.”

"Macy's Parade," 1951.

“Macy’s Parade,” 1951.

The WSJ piece opens with an anecdote of Silver taking shots of people showering outdoors at Compo Beach. A man objected to his girlfriend being photographed, and called the police.

A bystander talked to the officers. “I know this man,” she said. “He has a show at the New-York Historical Society.”

(Larry Silver’s show runs through December 4. To read the entire Wall Street Journal story, click here.)

Larry Silver, looking at his exhibition at the New-York Historical Society. (Photo/Ralph Gardner Jr. for the Wall Street Journal)

Larry Silver, looking at his exhibition at the New-York Historical Society. (Photo/Ralph Gardner Jr. for the Wall Street Journal)

Allegations Lift Veil Covering Bridgewater

Claims of sexual harassment, fear and intimidation are surfacing in Westport.

Specifically, they’re alleged to occur at Bridgewater Associates. The world’s largest hedge fund is headquartered at 2 sites — the Glendinning property on Weston Road and Nyala Farms, off I-95 exit 18 — but its reputation for secrecy is legendary.

The charges — reported today in the New York Times — were filed earlier this year with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights, by a 34-year-old employee. The newspaper interviewed 7 former employees and people who have worked with Bridgewater, lifting a lid on the $154 billion firm.

Bridgewater has also been the focus of a National Labor  Relations Board complaint, about confidentiality agreements that have led to interference and coercion.

The Times story includes information ranging from recordings of all meetings, to skinny-dipping and excessive drinking at an off-site retreat.

Click here for the full New York Times article.

The Bridgewater building on Weston Road.

The Bridgewater building on Weston Road.

Mary Allen’s Historic Mill Pond Bench

Alert “06880” reader — and amateur historian — Wendy Crowther writes:

Mary Riordan Allen grew up on Hillspoint Road, a few houses away from the iconic Allen’s Clam House.

In the early 1900s, Walter “Cap” Allen opened his clam and oyster shack on the banks of Sherwood Mill Pond. The oysters came from beds in the pond and nearby cove. Cap often hand-shucked them himself. Over time he grew Allen’s into a rustic family eatery.

Recently, Mary returned to the property — now the site of the Sherwood Mill Pond Preserve. It was a special occasion: to meet her bench.

A year ago, she asked Sherry Jagerson — chair of the preserve committee – how she and her family could contribute to the spot that meant so much to them. (A photo on the plaque — and below — shows Cap Allen holding a baby: Mary’s husband, Walter Allen.)

Captain Walter Allen (far right) with his wife Lida, daughter Beulah, holding his son Walter Ethan Allen (Mary’s future husband). The photo was taken at Allen's Clam House around 1911.

Captain Walter Allen (far right) with his wife Lida, daughter Beulah, holding his son Walter Ethan Allen (Mary’s future husband). The photo was taken at Allen’s Clam House around 1911.

Several months later, Mary came to Westport from her home in Maine. Sherry, I and other committee members walked the site with her, to pick out the best spot for the Allen family bench.

Mary Allen, at Sherwood Mill Pond.

Mary Allen, at Sherwood Mill Pond.

After returning home, Mary sent me old photos. One showed her son Chris sitting on what may have been the same boulder from decades earlier.

Mary said that Chris loved feeding the swans close to shore. In early spring, they came to the marsh, rebuilt their nest, laid their eggs and raised their cygnets.

Mary Allen's son Chris, with Sherwood Mill Pond swans.

Mary Allen’s son Chris, with Sherwood Mill Pond swans.

In high school, Mary clammed at low tide on the mud flats, and sold them to Cap. She also sold horseshoe crabs. He put them in floats where he kept his fresh clams; they kept the water clean.

Cap Allen and his wife Lida, in front of the clam house.

Cap Allen and his wife Lida, in front of the clam house.

The Clam House and Mill Pond were Mary’s summer playground. She and her friends rented Cap’s handmade rowboats, to catch blue claw crabs and have adventures. They swam at the gates at high tide — a “challenging and dangerous activity” that today she would not allow.

In winter, the pond froze over. The ice skating was wonderful.

Years later — after she married — Mary’s own children enjoyed similar activities. They also ate quite well at Allen’s. After all, she was family.

Cap’s son, Walter Ethan Allen, had a 35-foot ketch-rigged oyster boat. With a shallow draft and long, shallow centerboard and rudders, it was perfect for oystering. For better ballast, Walt asked neighborhood kids to sail with him.

When Walt returned from World War II, he asked Mary — a Staples High School student — to help. Eventually, ballast turned to romance. They married when she was 18. He was 30.

Walt and Mary Allen had 5 children. This photo shows Abigail, their oldest (Cap’s grandchild), in front of the barn that once stood tight against Hillspoint Road on the edge of the Clam House property. The barn -- which still stands -- was rustic inside, but furnished with a full kitchen and a 2nd-floor loft. Cap used it as a popular summer rental property.

Walt and Mary Allen had 5 children. This photo shows Abigail, their oldest (Cap’s grandchild), in front of the barn that once stood tight against Hillspoint Road on the edge of the Clam House property. The barn was rustic inside, but furnished with a full kitchen and a 2nd-floor loft. Cap used it as a popular summer rental property.

Cap owned a 1934 Ford Phaeton convertible. He drove it to the bank every Monday morning, to deposit the week’s proceeds.

Mary enjoyed hanging out at the clam house. Cap was “quiet but friendly and affable, and had a nice sense of humor.” A cigar smoker, he recovered from throat cancer. In 1954, age 75, he died of arterial sclerosis.

His sons — David and Mary’s husband Walt — tried to keep the business going, hiring help while they held their own jobs. Finally, they decided to run the restaurant only. The Uccellinis — 2 generations of their own family — did a magnificent job too.

Allen’s Clam House was a hugely popular summer place. Over time though, the building wore down. Environmental restrictions made it financially impossible to continue.

The restaurant closed in the mid-1990s. The land was ripe for sale. Developers — hoping to build 3 houses — made lucrative offers. Westporters mourned the loss of what had always been a favorite view. They urged the town to buy the land.

Mary worked closely with First Selectman Diane Farrell, and negotiated a special deal. Though it took many years, the site was eventually rehabilitated by volunteers. It officially opened as a preserve in 2010.

The Sherwood Mill Pond Preserve is one of the most tranquil spots in Westport. (Photo/Katherine Hooper)

The Sherwood Mill Pond Preserve is one of the most tranquil spots in Westport. (Photo/Katherine Hooper)

For the dedication, Mary’s daughter Bonnie Allen wrote:

A special acknowledgment is due to my mother, Mary Riordan Allen, the last remaining owner of the Allen’s Clam House property. 11 years ago, in the spirit of Captain Allen’s concern for the Mill Pond and its meadows, she turned down high purchase offers from developers in favor of selling the property to the town at a price it could afford.

With generous matching contributions from like-minded Westporters (Paul Newman, Harvey Weinstein and Martha Stewart among them) the town of Westport bought the property, and honored my mother’s wishes that it be preserved in its natural state, dedicated to my grandfather, Captain Walter Dewitt Allen.

Last week, Mary and Bonnie returned to Westport to meet their bench — a gift from Mary and her children. The plaque honors Mary’s husband Walt, who died in 1982, and Bonnie’s son, Sebastian Katz, who died in 2000 at age 20.

Mary and Bonnie Allen, on the family's bench.

Mary and Bonnie Allen, on the family’s bench.

The plaque on the Allen family bench.

The plaque on the Allen family bench.

Mary’s bench is the one that Sherwood Mill Pond visitors gravitate to most. I suspect that’s because it provides the same views and sense of peace that first drew Cap to this special piece of the Mill Pond, and inspired him to raise a family and a business on its shores.

Thanks to Mary and her family, this site is a wonderful place, where both nature and history are preserved.


Click here for “06880+” — the easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!

David Loffredo And The Donald

Longtime Westporter — and frequent “06880” commenter — David Loffredo was invited to speak at an event at the Trump Doral.

Intrigued, he accepted. He’d never been to a Trump resort before.

“It’s everything you’d expect — lots of gold,” David reports.

Last night, there was a buzz that the Republican presidential candidate was coming.

After David spoke, he headed toward the lobby. Bam!

Donald Trump - by David Loffredo

“His employees — mostly minorities — love this guy,” David says.

He also talked to Secret Service members. “They said he’s a ‘rock star.'”


Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!

Westport Police Open “Citizens’ Academy”

Across the country, police-citizen relations are in the news.

Westport cops have a great reputation. But they want to do even more to help folks understand the reality of their lives.

A Citizens’ Police Academy begins September 8. Up to 24 Westporters will take law enforcement classes from local police officers. They’ll also participate in ride-alongs, and earn CPR/AED certification.

Classes meet every Thursday (7-9:30 p.m.), for 9 weeks.

I’ve done a ride-along. It was a fascinating experience.

The course seems educational, intriguing, and very valuable. It’s open to all Westport residents 21 and older. For more information, including an application, call Jillian Cabana: 203-341-6009.

Westport Police

Main Street Business Floats Away

More than 4 years ago, David Conneely made a life-changing decision. He moved from Brooklyn to Westport, to own and operate iFloat.

The Boston-area native did not know anyone here. He had never owned a business. But he loved floating — a method of reducing stress and feeling relaxed, using warm salt water in a quiet place — and wanted to make a difference in people’s lives.

He put his life into his business, on the 2nd floor of Main Street above Oscar’s. He educated people about the benefits of floating. He hosted events that enhance mind-body connections. He solved his own problems, like retail neighbors playing loud, pulsing music.

“It’s been quite a ride — a lot of blood, sweat, and tears,” David says.

“But I look back and see a positive impact on people’s lives as a result of what I have done here. I’ve made a difference, developed friendships, a community, people whom I love and who love me.”

David Conneely iFloat

Yet just as David helps folks relax and feel better, he’s come to understand himself and his own needs too.

At the end of March, he planned to use his one day off — a Monday — to hang out with a client, who has since become a good friend. But a business issue arose, and he canceled.

Anne told David that she felt his life was unbalanced. As they talked, he realized she was right. He did not have much of a life outside iFloat. He was unhappy.

He said, “If someone walked in and wrote a check for the place, I’d walk away.”

She encouraged him to sell.

One of the iFloat relaxation tanks.

One of the iFloat relaxation tanks.

He started the process. He de-cluttered the place, wrote a valuation document, met with his accountant and friends. It was not easy.

When a suitable arrangement could not be found, he decided to just shut down.

But David could not simply walk away. He stayed open a month longer than he planned — through July 31 — so that people could use any gift certificates or pre-purchased floats they had.

“I’m glad I gave everyone a month’s notice,” he says. “I’ve received a lot of support, by email and in person. It’s been an honor to own and run iFloat. I’m grateful to have met so many wonderful people.”

iFloat logoDavid realizes that he and iFloat have impacted many lives. “I’m happy what I’ve done here,” he says. “And I’m happy to be moving forward.”

David plans to publish a book about floating (it’s almost done). He may go back to teaching high school biology — his previous profession — or do some life coaching or counseling.

He may resettle in Boston or New York. He also looks forward to spending 3 months on an island off Thailand.

Small businesses frequently come and go in Westport. Seldom, though, do they impact so many lives — or leave with such grace and class.

Westport Shows Her True Colors

Severe thunderstorms moved through Westport early this evening.

And then…

Rainbow - July 25, 2016 - David Waldman

(Photo/David Waldman)

(Photos/David Waldman)

(Photo/David Waldman)

(Photo/Robert Mitchell)

(Photo/Robert Mitchell)

Burying Hill Beach - July 25, 2016 - Jessica Isaacs

(Photo/Jessica Isaacs)

Finally, a bit later…

Compo Beach, looking west. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Compo Beach, looking west. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Cole Dickinson’s Baseball Career Is A Cakewalk

Three years ago, Westport’s all-stars electrified the town with a great run to the Little League World Series championship game.

Among their many fans was Rick Dickinson. A huge baseball fan himself (and former high school state champion), as the owner of Great Cakes Rick knew many of the players. Their parents bought Rick’s great cakes to celebrate birthdays, and Rick chatted with them about their sons’ achievements.

Many of those players and their families — all of Rick’s customers, really — knew his son Cole too. The little kid was there behind the counter during busy times, helping his dad.

Great Cakes closed just a few months after Westport’s World Series thrill.

But Rick is still baking locally — and Cole has turned into a baseball star himself.

Rick Dickinson stands proudly with his son Cole.

Rick Dickinson stands proudly with his son Cole.

The 12-year-old is a 3rd baseman on the New Milford Pride. His team recently won the New England regional championship, and is headed to the Cal Ripken World Series.

It’s set for July 29-August 6, in Aberdeen, Maryland. Cole’s first game is Saturday, July 30 against the Pacific Southwest team, from Hawaii.

(It’s worth noting that in the final inning of the regional final, the score was 9-9. The bases were loaded, with 2 outs. Cole’s hit won it.)

All of Westport — especially those former Little Leaguers — wish Cole and the New Milford Pride good luck at the Cal Ripken World Series.

Win or lose, we’re sure they’ll celebrate their week with plenty of great cakes.


Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!

Entitled Parking: A 4-fer

Today’s entitled parking shot comes from a medical complex.

Entitled parking

The driver of this car covers all the bases:

  • Pulling right up to the front door, even though it’s not a parking spot;
  • Forcing other drivers to pull around into the oncoming lane;
  • Blocking the stairs and
  • Blocking a handicapped spot.

Well done, Mr. (or Ms.) license plate 1AW-TN9.

(Just to be clear: No, there was no one in the car. And yes, it was parked that way for at least 10 minutes.)

Joshua Bell Plays Westport — Again

Joshua Bell is the most famous violinist of our time. Wherever he plays — around the world — he attracts adoring, sold-out audiences.

Despite his grueling recording and performing schedule, Bell often finds time for Westport.

Joshua Bell

Joshua Bell

In 2012 Bell helped launch Beechwood Arts and Innovation, the Westport non-profit known for its creative, eclectic Arts Immersion Salons. Music, art, film, performance, food and technology — all come together in a stunning 1806 home owned by Frederic Chiu and Jeanine Esposito.

Bell — a longtime friend of Chiu, Beechwood’s co-founder and himself an internationally acclaimed pianist — kicked off the 1st year by donating an unforgettable concert of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.”

He was joined by Chiu, actor James Naughton of Weston, and 13-year-old theater student Rachel Rival. Afterwards, chef Raul Restrepo of the former River Café served an equally memorable dinner.

Several years earlier, Bell appeared with Chiu — with whom he has played for 35 years — at the sold-out Malloy lecture for the Westport Library. A few days later they performed at the Westport Country Playhouse with Audra McDonald, Glenn Close and Tony Bennett, honoring Westporter Joanne Woodward.

Jeanine Esposito, Frederic Chiu, Paul Newman and Joshua Bell, at an earlier appearance in Westport.

Jeanine Esposito, Frederic Chiu, Paul Newman and Joshua Bell, at an earlier appearance in Westport.

Next month, Bell returns to town. On Thursday, August 25 (8 p.m., United Methodist Church) — in the midst of his own vacation — he’ll give a “high 5” to Beechwood Arts & Innovation, for their 5th-year fundraiser. Chiu once again joins him on piano.

The event includes a VIP Meet-and-Greet, a conversation where they reminisce about their early days as aspiring musicians (with WQXR’s Elliot Forrest), and a celebration party at Beechwood Arts, across the street from the church.

Beechwood logoThough every seat at a fundraiser is important, Beechwood is reserving 40 seats for patrons to sponsor young music students from underserved communities. Local music non-profits Spread Music Now, Turnaround Arts, Intake, Neighborhood Studios and KEYS are helping fill those seats.

Students will sit close to the stage, and talk to Bell and Chiu during intermission. Their parents can share in the event — and all will leave with a CD.

“In our youth, both Joshua and I were deeply inspired seeing master musicians play live,” Chiu says. “Those experiences left impressions that lasted a lifetime.

“This inspires both of us to work with students. And it’s why at Beechwood we regularly include students alongside masters of their craft, in all of our events across music, art, film and performance.”

Bell and Chiu have been friends since meeting at music competitions in their native Indiana. They’ve toured together for nearly 40 years, in the U.S., Europe and South America.

Their friendship will be on display August 25. So will their world-class talents, their deep love of the arts, and their wonderful generosity to all.

(Tickets must be reserved in advance. For tickets or more information, click here or call 203-226-9462.)

On one visit to Westport, Joshua Bell played "Four Seasons." On tour with Frederic Chiu in Ecuador, Chiu stood on the winter side of the equator, and Bell on the summer side.

On one visit to Westport, Joshua Bell played “Four Seasons.” On tour with Frederic Chiu in Ecuador, Chiu stood on the winter side of the equator, and Bell on the summer side.