Category Archives: Downtown

Love To Lee

Like many Westporters, Lynn U. Miller is a huge Lee Papageorge fan.

Yesterday — as the popular Oscar’s owner battles lung cancer — the noted Westport photographer stopped by his Main Street deli.

“Lee fills every room with his goodwill, kindness, generosity, wonderful smile, and genuine interest in and concern for everyone,” Lynn says.

She’s learned a lot from him. She wanted to show Lee and his family how she — and many others — felt about him.

She gathered 7 of Lee’s staff — Harry, Joyce, Cris, Javier, Joachim, Devan and Wally (Imis was off) — for a heartfelt, loving shot.

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

50 years of Lee’s customers share the sentiment.

The Latest On Lee Papageorge

About a year ago, Joel Smilow went to Oscar’s for lunch.

A longtime Westporter, and the former chairman and CEO of Playtex, he’s also a noted philanthropist. He made a transformative gift to Yale-New Haven Hospital’s Smilow Cancer Hospital, and donated medical research buildings at NYU and the University of Pennsylvania (among many other endowments).

Lee Papageorge — the popular owner of Oscar’s Delicatessen — was struck by a sudden thought.

“After all you’ve done for people,” Lee asked Joel, “has anyone ever bought you lunch?”

Lee was happy to do so.

Two months ago, Lee received a tough diagnosis: lung cancer. It was particularly devastating because he never smoked — not once in his life.

Lee is now undergoing immunotherapy — at the Smilow Cancer Hospital.

“Those people are fantastic. They’re geniuses,” Lee says with awe. “They know how to talk to you. They treat you so well. They’re the whole package.”

Oscar's owner Lee Papageorge.

Oscar’s owner Lee Papageorge.

Lee — who is 65 — has been a part of Oscar’s since the actual Oscar hired him at  16. Working in the original store — a few doors down Main Street, now part of Vince Clothing — Lee earned $1 an hour. “I had $20 in my wallet. I felt fat!” he says.

(Lee was not the 1st Papageorge who fed Westporters downtown. His grandfather and father opened the Club Grill in 1927. It later was known as Muriel’s, on the Post Road at Taylor Place across from what is now Tiffany.)

In 1967, Joe Milici bought Oscar’s (from Oscar). Lee kept working there. Four years later, he became a 50% partner. They moved to their present location soon thereafter.

The ’70s and ’80s were exciting times on Main Street, Lee recalls. There was always something going on.

He and store owners like Bob Hertzel, Stan Klein, Drew Friedman and Dan Coughlin were prime movers behind the Westport Downtown Merchants Association. They loved the area, the town and their customers. They supported each other, too.

Now, Oscar’s is the oldest — and last — “mom-and-pop” store on Main Street.

Oscar's Delicatessen (Photo/Videler Photography)

Oscar’s Delicatessen (Photo/Videler Photography)

As he battles cancer, Lee has been buoyed by the support of “very strong women.” Susan Gold, of the Westport Historical Society, has been particularly helpful.

Since he was 16, Lee has been a part of Oscar’s. And Oscar’s has been a part of downtown.

Lee’s many customers — and friends — send all their best wishes to him.

A River Runs Through It

(Photo/Patrick Goldschmidt)

Click on or hover over to enlarge (Photo/Patrick Goldschmidt)

Get Your Art! Buy Some Books! Enjoy The Sun!

Downtown is hot this weekend — literally and figuratively.

Two annual events — the Arts Festival and Book Sale — are drawing large crowds. There’s something for everyone, of all ages — and plenty of surprises too.

Both run till 5 p.m. today. They’re on tomorrow too, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The book sale continues Monday and Tuesday.

But the good stuff goes fast.

Keith Richards was at the arts festival -- well, at least, his portrait was. The artist -- from the Catskills -- hopes the real Stone will roll by.

Keith Richards was at the arts festival — well, at least, his portrait was. The artist — from the Catskills — hopes the real Stone will roll by.

Breezes off the river helped cool this artist -- and her sculpture.

Breezes off the river helped cool this artist — and her sculpture.

Westport Library artist-in-residence Miggs Burroughs and Westport Arts Collective colleague Mina de Haas, at the library's arts festival booth.

The Westport Arts Collective had a booth too.

You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant -- and the Westport Library book sale.

You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant — and the Westport Library book sale.

Tables sprawl throughout the Jesup Green tent, and inside the library itself.

Tables sprawl throughout the Jesup Green tent, and inside the library itself.

Why wait until you get home?

Why wait until you get home?

Artwork, Books — And Miggs Burroughs — Downtown This Weekend

Some things about the Westport Fine Arts Festival never change.

Favorite artists, sculptors, jewelry-makers and photographers return, with familiar work in an intriguing variety of styles. Westporters and visitors flock downtown; there is music and food. The weather is hot.

Some things are always different. There is new artwork. New bands play.

This year too, the Westport Library‘s new artist-in-residence lends his presence — and talents — to the 43rd annual Fine Arts Festival (Saturday and Sunday, July 16-17, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Parker Harding Plaza).

Miggs Burroughs' official Westport Library "geek" portrait. (Photo/Pam Einarsen)

Miggs Burroughs’ official Westport Library “geek” portrait. (Photo/Pam Einarsen)

Miggs Burroughs co-presents his own artwork — along with others from the Westport Artists Collective — including Nina Bentley, Trace Burroughs, Linn Cassetta, Wilhelmina de Haas and Tammy Windsor.

Miggs will man an “Artist-in-Residence” booth, answering questions and providing information about the library’s connection with local artists, town arts organizations and events.

The Fine Arts Festival — sponsored by the Westport Downtown Merchants Association — is one of the town’s signature summer events.

Of course, so is the Library’s annual book sale. It runs this weekend too: Saturday, July 16, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, July 17, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Monday, July 18, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (all items half price); Tuesday, July 19, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (all items free; contributions welcome).

The 2 events are big, fun and complementary.

Just think: It’s the Library’s biggest event of the year, and they share their artist-in-residence with the Arts Festival.

(For more information on the Fine Arts Festival, click here. To learn more about the Library’s book sale, click here.)

A mime and artist, both hard at work during the Westport Fine Arts Festival.

A mime and artist, both hard at work during the Westport Fine Arts Festival.

You can get just about anything at the Westport Library's book sale.

You can get just about anything at the Westport Library’s book sale.

The Storm Before The Calm

Dark clouds gathered in downtown Westport late this afternoon — and alert “06880” photographer Andrew Colabella was there to capture them.

Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

The brief storm passed, bringing cooler air and sunny skies.

Friday and the weekend should be hot — and clear.

Weedles, Zubats, Ekans And More: Pokemon Go Floods Westport

The tagline for “06880” is “where Westport meets the world.”

Right now, Westport — and the world — are going gaga over Pokémon Go.

I don’t know a Squirtle from a Jynx. But I do know that Pokémon Go has been downloaded more times in a week than Tinder has in 4 years. (No value judgments, mind you.) So I figured I’d capture the local angle.

Tom Bruno is my Pokémon Go go-to guy. As the Westport Library‘s new director of knowledge curation and innovation — Bill Derry’s old gig, more or less — the game is in his wheelhouse.

The library itself is not a Pokestop or Pokegym, he says. But several are nearby.

Three Pokestops are actually sculptures. There’s Carol Eisner’s “Walter the Sculpture,” outside the library’s main entrance; the big sculpture on Jesup Green, and the Post Road bridge sculpture at the Taylor parking lot entrance.

The library encourages patrons to find those sculptures by setting Lures (which of course attract rare and unusual wild Pokémon that patrons can catch).

Bruno says, “Depending on where you are in the building, you can also catch some of these Pokémon in the library as well.”

Bruno and his colleagues realized that the Levitt Pavilion stage Pokestop is on the route for the library’s annual first-ever StoryWalk along the Saugatuck River (which, happily for this publicity, kicks off Monday). Bruno took a shot of a wild Pokémon perched atop one of the signs.

Pokemon - Westport Library

The library is also placing Lures at all of those Pokestops, to help generate buzz for the giant book sale this weekend.

Though Niantic — the company responsible for Pokémon Go — is not taking requests for new Pokestops or Pokegyms, Bruno says it would be exciting to have the library community battle for control of the gym in that building.

The library is also working to add Pokémon Go to its popular “Anyone Can…” technology 101 classes. “We’d like to help people who are curious about the game get started, and join in what will almost certainly be the big summer activity,” Bruno says.

Finally — in a stroke of luck akin to finding a Charizard — the library long ago planned a partnership with Barnes & Noble on a Pokémon card game tournament. Amazingly, it’s this Saturday (July 16, 4-6 p.m.) at the Westport store.

Because — like Pokémon Go — “06880” is all about community, we’d like to hear your stories and tips. If you’ve got any game-related news, click “Comments” below. Please use your real name, not a Pokémon alias.

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Finally, if you thought the only thing local officials care about are mill rates and 8-30g applications, think again. Yesterday, they posted this on the town’s official Facebook page (courtesy of the New York Police Department):

As PokémonGo fever hits Westport, we want to remind you of some simple safety tips. As you battle, train, and capture your Pokémon just remember you’re still in the real world too! Around the country the PokémonGo craze has seen reports of accidents, injuries and even crimes where suspects have set-up fake Pokéstops.

Be careful out there!

Be careful out there!

So as you set out to capture them all:

1) Be alert at all times
2) Stay aware of your surroundings
3) Play in pairs or as a group to ensure your safety
4) Do not drive or ride your bike, skateboard, or other device while interacting with the app…you can’t do both safely
5) Do not trespass onto private property or go to areas you usually would not if you weren’t playing Pokémon Go.

Have fun AND stay safe. Good luck in your quest, and happy hatching, trapping, and training at the Pokémon Gym!

Crane Is Back!

Well, it’s not exactly the magnificent crane that enthralled Westporters, as it towered over Bedford Square for several months.

This one — across from Fire Department headquarters — is quite a bit smaller:

Crane

But how fitting that it’s there. The Post Road office building being renovated was once the international headquarters of Terex.

You know: the manufacturer of heavy construction equipment.

Fitting A Lot Into A Bungalow

A few times a year, a 40-foot container pulls into Sconset Square.

It’s filled to the brim with European artifacts, antiques and goods.

Within a day, Bungalow — the very cool shop crammed full of furniture, home accessories, art, textiles, jewelry, books and gifts — is emptied.

All the new stuff comes in. Then everything is rearranged.

But it doesn’t happen in an instant. Here was the scene earlier today:

Bungalow

Good thing it didn’t rain.

jUNe Day Busts Out

For the 51st summer, Westport welcomed United Nations diplomats, staff members and their families. Our jUNe Day guests enjoyed soccer, swimming, tennis, and visits to spots like Earthplace and downtown.

Every year on jUNe Day, flags of visitors’ nations replace the American flags on the Post Road’s Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge.

So who was Ruth Steinkraus Cohen?

The founder and — for many years — guiding spirit behind the annual event.

There could be no better tribute — and no finer day for our guests.

(PhotoCharlie Colasurdo)

(PhotoCharlie Colasurdo)