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Category Archives: Beach
Two of the biggest Compo Beach controversies in recent years involved the South Beach bathrooms and the playground. Opponents of both projects worried they’d block scenic views of the Sound.
That didn’t happen, of course. But for many years — through the 1960s, in fact — our vista was quite different.
Enormous wooden bathhouses stretched from what is now Joey’s to the pavilion near Soundview Drive. (The concession stand was located then at the current volleyball courts.)
I have very dim memories of the bathhouses. They were dark and musty. The floors were sandy and wet. My friends and I played inside, but it felt like danger lurked around every corner. There were many corners.
The bathhouses went through several incarnations, before they were finally torn down. Here are a few.
Thunderstorms are forecast for today and tonight. Hey — we’ve got our 7th annual “06880” blog party, starting at 6 p.m.!
We’re still set for South Beach — the alcohol-is-fine-except-no-glass-bottles end, furthest from the cannons. Unless, of course, there’s rain and lightning then.
If it rains earlier, we’ll clear off the tables and benches. (If you’ve got an extra folding table, please bring one!) If it rains during the event, we’ll open umbrellas – or scatter.
This is a bring-your-own-food-and-beverages event. If you’d like to bring something extra to share, feel free!
We provide the “06880” community — a chance to meet commenters and lurkers. Each year there are oldtimers, newcomers, politicians and normal human beings. It’s a chance to talk, laugh and trade stories about this wild, wacky and only slightly dysfunctional town we share and love.
See you tonight!
Dave Stalling grew up in Westport. After graduating from Staples in 1979 and earning a forestry degree from Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondacks, he enlisted in the Marines. He served in an elite Force Recon unit, and attained the rank of sergeant.
Dave then received degrees in journalism and wildlife at the University of Montana. He has worked for the US Forest Service, National Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimited and other conservation groups, and served 2 terms as president of the Montana Wildlife Federation.
Dave currently works as a writer, editor and activist (click here for his blog). He lives in Missoula with his son Cory.
Recently, Dave was interviewed about his passion for protecting wild places and grizzly bears. Among the podcast topics: how growing up in Westport helped shape his beliefs, values and life’s work. Here’s an excerpt:
My dad was a pretty interesting guy. He grew up during the Depression and did a lot of fishing and crabbing and hunting, mostly to help feed his family. He quit high school after Pearl Harbor, and joined the Marine Corps. He was in some horrendous battles; he fought on Iwo Jima, Saipan, Okinawa.
After the war, because he didn’t have a high school degree, he never really pursued his dreams. He actually wanted to get into wildlife and forestry and move to Montana, so I kind of lived my dad’s life. He was incredibly knowledgeable, self-taught about wildlife.
We did a lot of hiking, camping and backpacking. Growing up on Long Island Sound, in Westport, Connecticut, we spent a ton of time pursuing fish that migrate up and down the East Coast, called striped bass.
We would fish for them mostly at night. We would go out there, and he’d take a kind of scientific approach to it all. He kept track over many years of what times of year, what the moon was, what tides were, and where he would catch these fish.
Maybe he would set up on the northeast corner of Cockenoe Island at a certain tide during a certain moon in October, and catch these big migratory bass that come through. We would catch them up to 40 or 50 pounds, but there’s been stripers netted in commercial fishing boats that were over 100 pounds. They’re big fish. And really good eating fish.
What really helped influence me was my father went far beyond just teaching me how to catch fish. He was very passionate about the wilds. He taught me about sandpipers, horseshoe crabs, jellyfish, sea robins, scallops, mussels, lobsters — everything that made up the world of the striped bass. He would tie it all together for me, and of course talk about the importance of keeping healthy estuaries and that sort of stuff.
At the same time, he would get really sad and tell me stories. He’d point out places where there’s now big giant mansions along the East Coast, big estates and golf courses. He told me how when he was a kid those were salt marshes and estuaries, where he used to fish and crab.
It had dramatically changed in front of his eyes — which I can relate to now because I’ve been in Montana for over 30 years, and see the same kind of stuff. When I first moved here, I had permission to hunt on this ranch just outside of Missoula. It’s now Wal-Mart, Costco and all that development.
He taught me to go beyond the fishing, and really appreciate what sustained these fish. I guess through that I developed a really strong connection to the environment, to the wilds.
There’s also a desire to protect it all. At the time striped bass were rapidly declining, because of PCBs and other chemical pollutants in their spawning grounds, like the Chesapeake Bay and Hudson Bay. So I learned a lot about that.
He traveled up and down the New England coast, attending meetings and fighting to protect the striped bass that meant so much to him.
I got a lot from him, obviously. He was a good man. He passed away 16 or 17 years ago. I miss him every day.
To hear the complete interview, click below.
The 7th annual “06880″ party is almost here!
If you’re reading this, you’re invited.
This Thursday (July 18, 6 p.m.) is the day and time. The far end of Compo’s South Beach — away from the cannons, near the boat and kayak launch, not far from the new bathroom — is the place. (Still confused? See the aerial view below.)
Every member of the “06880″ (aka this website) community is invited. We welcome frequent commenters and lurkers. Folks who have lived here all their lives, and those who moved here yesterday. People who want the Saugatuck bridge to stay the same, those who want a new one, and everyone in between. (Though the party is a politics-free zone.)
The tagline for “06880″ is “Where Westport meets the world.” Next Thursday, that world comes to Compo.
Bring your own food, beverages (no glass bottles!), beach chairs and blankets. We could use a few folding tables, too. Then mix, mingle and enjoy the evening with the “06880″ crowd.
There’s no charge. It’s a “fun-raiser,” not a fundraiser.
A “blog party” — the “06880” version of a block party.
See you Thursday!
(PS: We try to match people who need rides, with those who can offer them. If you fall into either category, please email me privately: email@example.com. No promises, but I’ll do my best.)