Category Archives: Beach

Loving Compo

Love was in the air — and on the sand and the boardwalk — yesterday at Compo.

Alert “06880” photographer Lynn U. Miller was there to capture it, in all its many-splendored forms.

(Photos/Lynn U. Miller)

Photo Challenge #121

Some of our photo challenges are easy. Some are hard.

But I don’t think I’ve ever posted one where a number of people get the right answer — but even more guess the same wrong answer.

Last week’s photo showed a picnic bench near some water. It could very well have been taken from the top of Burying Hill, looking out at Long Island Sound below.

Seven people thought it was.

But Seth Schachter actually shot the image at ground level. The bench was at Sherwood Mill Pond Preserve — the former site of Allen’s Clam House, now a wonderful, peaceful spot with tons of native grasses and plants. (Click here for the photo, and all the other wrong guesses.)

Chris Swan was the first person to answer (and he nailed it). Good thing, too — he’s been a member of the Sherwood Mill Pond Advisory Committee since its inception in 2005. (Plus, he grew up — and still lives — nearby.)

Kudos too to Matt Murray (another neighbor), Joyce Barnhart, Golda Villa, Kimberly Englander Leonard and Rebecca Wolin. I’m sure they all enjoy the preserve’s quiet beauty.

Now you can too. But ssshhh — don’t tell anyone!

This week’s photo challenge also includes a bit of water. Click “Comments” below if you know where it is.

End Of An Old Mill Era

Emma Morano died on Saturday, in Italy. The world’s oldest woman — and the last person on earth known to have lived in the 1800s — she was 117 years old.

Here in Westport, a demolition permit has been issued for 233 Hillspoint Road. The notice affixed to the side of the building puts its age at 117 years.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

It too has a link to Italy: Most recently, it was the site of Positano. That restaurant closed at the end of 2014. It reopened several months later at its present location, next to the Westport Country Playhouse.

Positano restaurant.

Positano was the last in a storied line of restaurants at 233 Hillspoint. Perhaps its most popular predecessor was Cafe de la Plage.

In between, it was (briefly) the Beach House:

“Beach House,” by Tony Marino.

In the mid-1900s, Westporters knew it as Leo Williams’ Old Mill Restaurant:

Leo Williams’ Old Mill Restaurant, in 1954. (Photo/Bridgeport Post)

Before that, it was both the Beach Food Mart, and Joe’s:

In its 117 years, #233 Hillspoint has seen a lot. The neighborhood has changed — many times. Old Mill Beach has thrived, eroded, and come back to life.

Of course, there were floods, like Hurricane Carol in 1954 …

… and SuperStorm Sandy 59 years later:

(Photo/Matt Murray)

From these photos, it’s likely the property started out as a private home.

Once demolition as complete, that’s probably what it will become again.

But this is 2017. Not 1899.

Odds are good it will not look the same.

Pic Of The Day #2

Good bones at the beach. (Photo copyright Lynn U. Miller)

Ospreys On The Mill Pond

Westporters never get tired of our ospreys. Alert “06880” reader — and early riser — Jen Greely writes:

This morning I took my paddleboard out for the first time this season.

I paddled around Sherwood Mill Pond, watching the oyster farmers work and the commuter trains pass by. Then I spent more than an hour quietly floating, while enjoying this beautiful osprey pair put the finishing touches on their nest.

I took these photos as they flew back and forth, gathering some last sticks. I don’t think they could ask for a prettier location to raise their offspring.

My husband and I said the same thing when we moved here in 2013!

(Photos/Jen Greely)

Happy Easter!

I can’t believe anyone had Easter dinner today.

Everyone was at the beach.

The best weather of the year drew enormous crowds of all ages to the playground:

Joey Romeo was everywhere — as usual — making sure his snack bar served everyone:

But the biggest attraction was a kitesurfer. For at least 2 hours, this guy whipped through the waves. He leaped 20 feet in the air. He circled far out, then zoomed close to land.

That dude has amazing upper body strength, great balance, and a sailor’s sense of the wind.

Thanks for the show!

Dredge We Must!

Visitors to Compo Beach — and there have been many these recent, beautiful days — have wondered about all the heavy equipment near South Beach.

(Photo/Bruce McFadden)

They’re there to dredge the Ned Dimes Marina and adjacent channel.

It’s the first time since 1993. Since then, Hurricanes Irene and Sandy — along with the natural movement of tides — have created dangerous conditions for boaters.

The project involves over 20,000 cubic yards of sand.

And in 2040 or so, we’ll do it all over again.

Elvira’s Opens Monday!

It’s the news Westport has waited for: Elvira’s is back.

The popular Old Mill deli/grocery store/community center was closed all winter. It’s the first well-deserved rest the Yiovanakos family owners have taken in 20 years.

But at 7 a.m. on Monday, they’ll again greet their regulars: commuters, kids waiting for the school bus, construction workers, delivery people, joggers, bikers, and everyone else who lives, works in or passes through the neighborhood.

Nicky and Stacey at their familiar spot. The counter displays photos of some of Elvira’s many young customers.

“We missed everyone!” co-owner Stacey says.

“We’re ready to rock and roll for the season,” Nicky adds.

It’s all back: coffee, salads, sandwiches, pizza, and Elvira’s beloved bacon-egg-and-cheese.

And all is once again right with the world.

Friday Flashback #34

A week ago, heavy rains and strong winds pushed Compo Beach sand onto the boardwalk. Some carried beyond, into the parking lot.

A few folks out for a stroll on Sunday were annoyed that “they” — whoever that is — hadn’t yet cleaned the sand from, um, the beach.

Those people would not have fared well a century ago. Here’s how Soundview Drive looked then:

On the other hand, check out those very cool wooden bathhouses in the distance.

Around the corner was another beach scene. I’m guessing from the somewhat garbled description — “The Old Mill Road, Compo” — that these homes were on Sherwood Mill Pond, opposite Old Mill Beach.

If you’ve got another idea — or want to commend our current Parks & Rec and Public Works staffs for their great work on our beaches and roads — click “Comments” below.

(Postcards courtesy of Jack Whittle)

Dave Jones’ Tale Of The Sea

This is a story about Compo Beach lifeguards, stage 4 cancer, Stew Leonard and inner-city children.

If you don’t think they’re all related, you don’t know Westport.

And you really don’t know Dave Jones.

His tale begins at Staples High, where he played football before graduating in 1971. It continues on the University of Idaho football field, with summers lifeguarding at Compo Beach. It includes marriage (and divorce) with his high school sweetheart; moves on to a long career in ad sales with NBC, then veers off to remarriage, and raising twin sons.

In 2010 — in the midst of a very successful career at WJAR-TV in Providence — Jones saw a doctor for lower back pain.

The diagnosis: stage 4 colon, liver and gallbladder cancer.

Then came spots on his brain. And lymph node issues. Jones was dying.

He underwent surgery, and 18 months of chemotherapy. Last year, he crossed the magic 5-year survival window.

Dave Jones (Photo/M. Kiely)

An event like that does something to a person. Jones left the TV station, took a huge pay cut, and worked as the major gifts officer for 100-bed South County Hospital in Wakefield, Rhode Island. He helped build a $6.5 million community cancer center there. “Neighbors taking care of neighbors,” he explains.

Then he lost his job. “That’s healthcare,” Jones says simply.

He retired. “I had a great life,” he says. “I was healthy, living on the ocean. But how much SportsCenter can you watch?”

A friend owned Capital Wealth Management. Jones suggested the firm start a foundation, to help people donate money in personal, non-traditional ways: building a roof for an animal shelter, say, or providing computers to autistic kids.

“They’re micro-grants that previously fell through the cracks,” Jones says. “But nobody gave us a shot. You can’t put a private foundation next to a wealth management firm. It looks nefarious, like you’re hiding money. The SEC has lots of questions.”

But he did it. Jones is now president and CEO of the Capital Wealth Foundation. One of his key board members is former Staples classmate Mike Perlis — now president and executive chairman of Forbes Media.

The foundation gives out 100% of its funds — “well into 6 figures” already, Jones says.

His most recent project is one of his favorites. Growing up in Westport, he knew Stew Leonard Jr. Like Jones, Leonard has achieved quite a bit of success.

Like Jones too, he’s known tough times. In 1989 Leonard’s 21-month-old son, Stew III, drowned. The Stew Leonard III Children’s Charity now promotes water safety and awareness.

Jones’ son Jack follows in his footsteps: He’s a lifeguard. Unlike relatively tame Compo though, he works on the Narragansett surf. Jack often sees city kids rush into the waves. They can’t swim, and get caught in the very strong undertow.

Later this month, Jones and Leonard will meet to plan the Capital Wealth Foundation’s next project: providing swim lessons for inner-city kids.

Jones is going all in. He’s asking every former Compo lifeguard he knows for contributions. With the help of ex-guards Will Luedke and Mary Hughes, and Ann Becker Moore — who hosts an annual lifeguard reunion in Westport — he’s got a great list to start with.

But Jones wants to reach even more. If you ever lifeguarded in Westport, and want to help teach kids how to swim, email David@CapitalWealthInc.com. Or call 401-885-1060, ext. 115.

Of course, you don’t have to be a former lifeguard to help. You just need some connection to Jones, Compo, Westport, Stew Leonard, cancer or kids.

And that includes us all.