Category Archives: Library

COVID Roundup: Letters; Books; Food; CVS; More


A pair of Staples High School juniors want to make sure that children in the hospital are not forgotten during the pandemic. They created Mailed With Love — a service that collects cards and drawings from families around Westport, for kids at at Yale New Haven Hospital.

Everyone can make cards and drawings. Follow @mailed.with.love on Instagram for details, or email mailedwithlovewestport@gmail.com.


Jane Malakoff is one of many Westporters who support their favorite restaurants during the pandemic. Every Saturday she orders dinner from Bistro du Soleil, on Riverside Avenue near the train station.

“Bistro is a small family owned restaurant, and perhaps off everyone’s radar,” Jane says. “Maria’s delicious dinners are my treat for the week. Only she, her husband and mother are in the restaurant.”

As restaurants across the state slowly  open up, it’s good to remember that’s only part of the equation. With 50% capacity and outdoor dining only, many will still rely on curbside takeout and delivery.

Remember too to order delivery direct from the restaurant’s website, if offered. Third-party services like Grubhub take a large chunk of change from the order.

Maria and her husband, at Bistro du Soleil.


The Westport Library remains closed — though its online offerings are plentiful and busy.

Still, if you prefer the pleasures of an actual dead-tree book, the funky “Little Free Library” on Otter Trail off Imperial Avenue is open.

The selections are a lot more limited than the downtown library. On the other hand, you don’t have to worry about social distancing.

PS: Note the sign: “Take a book. Share a book.” Donations welcome!


As of today, CVS is back open 24 hours (store only). Pharmacy hours are 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m weekends.


And finally … as we see glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel, Fontella Bass’ plea may be answered!

COVID Roundup: “Artists In Residences”; Alice In Wonderland; Class Of 2020 Signs; More


Among the many features of the transformed Westport Library, there was this: continuing exhibitions of local artists, in the Sheffer Gallery and other prominent spots.

The library is closed. But thanks to exhibits director Carole Erger-Fass, artist/ designer/jack-of-all-trades Miggs Burroughs, and modern technology, they’re getting even more exposure now than they would have had hanging on the walls.

“Artists in Residences” is the library’s cleverly named, wonderfully executed project. Miggs and Carole conducted 30-minute Zoom visits with Artists Collective of Westport members.

Part interview, part studio tour and part demonstrations of their techniques, each episode is as different as the artists themselves.

So far, 6 of these rare, intimate looks at artists in their “native habitats” have been completed. They feature Nina Bentley, Susan Fehlinger, Emily Laux, Joan Miller, Nancy Moore and MaryEllen Hendricks.

Click below for Nina’s; click here for all, via the YouTube channel.


Staples High School’s Class of 2020 will make history in at least 2 ways.

They’re the first to have senior year disrupted by a coronavirus pandemic. And they’re the first to have free lawn signs distributed to every graduate.

Signs are being picked up this week by all 437 seniors. You may already have seen some around town.

Plans are underway for many more activities for this year’s hard-luck, but resilient and wonderful, class. Hindsight is always “20/20” — but with a bit of foresight, this year’s Class of graduation will be both memorable and great.


Speaking of Staples: The “Seussical” show did not go on this spring. But another great one is on tap — er, on radio — this Thursday.

At 6 p.m. (May 14), Players director David Roth’s Theatre 3 class will broadcast their annual radio play. It’s “Alice in Wonderland.” And if it’s anything like past productions, it will earn a first-place national Drury High School Radio Award. (Staples has won every year since their inception in 2011.)

Entire families will enjoy this production. It uses the same 1952 script that was broadcast nationally, coinciding with Walt Disney’s release of his animated feature. And it features several stars from last fall’s “Mamma Mia!” mainstage.

The class has rehearsed 3 times a week since the school shut down. On Thursday you can hear them live: 90.3 FM, or streamed here.


Speaking of education: Westport Continuing Education has launched Online Learning classes and workshops for adults, teens and kids. Virtual “after school” programs include sports, babysitting, arts, film, horticulture, theater and more. Those for adults include business, cooking, gardening and personal finance. Click here for details.


They were all there at last night’s “Rise Up New York!” telethon: Tina Fey. Andrew Cuomo. Barbara Streisand. Ben Platt. Bette Midler. Jennifer Lopez. Bill de Blasio. Chris Rock. Danny Meyer. Eli Manning. Idina Menzel. Jake

Gyllenhaal. Jimmy Fallon. Lin-Manuel Miranda. Robert De Niro. Salt-N-Pepa. Spike Lee. Julianne Moore. Trevor Noah. Bon Jovi. Billy Joel. Mariah Carey.  Sting.

And Gold’s.

Momofuku’s David Chang said, “It’s impossible to overstate the importance of New York’s restaurant industry. It’s also impossible to overstate the crisis it’s currently facing.”

And then — first, among a number of dining spots — Westport’s popular deli appeared on screens, all around the nation. Chip Stephens captured the moment on camera:


And finally … listen to Peter Gabriel!

Rock Paper Scissors Coming Downtown. Everyone Wins!

If you thought the giant “Typewriter Eraser” sculpture on Beachside Avenue was cool, you’ll love this news.

An equally large piece is being donated to Westport.

And it’s planned for a much more visible location than a Greens Farms lawn.

“Rock Paper Scissors” monument is a gift from longtime arts philanthropists Ann Sheffer and her husband Bill Scheffler. The 9-foot high artwork will be placed at the top of Jesup Green, near the new path leading down to the river. It will complement nearby sculptures.

Kevin Box’s “Rock Paper Scissors” monument. This is obviously not its location in Westport.

The Board of Selectmen have already reviewed the gift. It goes before the Planning & Zoning Commission on May 14, and then must be accepted by the RTM.

In its application request, the sponsoring Westport Arts Advisory Committee said that sculptor Kevin Box “pushes boundaries of traditional metal casting by creating sculptures that are so delicate, detailed and weightless that they appear to be made simply of paper.”

Combined with the “fortitude of metal,” that results in “whimsical, fun and beautiful pieces with surprising weight, both literally and figuratively.”

Sheffer — a 1966 graduate of Staples High School, who as a 6-term member of the RTM chaired its Library, Museum and Arts Committee — and her Staples classmate Scheffler have long been involved with the town’s arts scene, as well as the Westport Library.

(For more details on the “Rock Paper Scissors Monument,” click here.)

COVID-19 Roundup: ReOpen Westport Team; Joey’s Reopens; Library Challenge; Virtual Bingo, And More


Yesterday, 1st Selectman Marpe announced the formation of a ReOpen Westport Advisory Team. Members will “seek input from local business and community leaders” so that the community can move forward “in both an overall and segmented way.”

2nd Selectman Jen Tooker chairs the group. More details about the ReOpen team — including, presumably, members — will be announced Monday.

Marpe says, “Westport will continue taking the lead from the state of Connecticut and health experts, but will simultaneously ensure that the status of COVID-19 and the local needs within Westport take precedence to any re-opening decisions.”

Most Post Road businesses remain closed. (Photo/Katherine Bruan)


A wee — but welcome — bit of Westport returns today.

Joey’s by the Shore relocates from the beach to Elvira Mae’s. The new deli/ice cream stand/market — now called “Joey’s by the Shore featuring Elvira Mae’s Coffer Bar” — rolls out a soft opening today.

There’s curbside ordering only (via joeysbytheshore.com). You’ll need to keep your social distance too, of course.

But there’s no better place to do it than there, and no better folks to do it for than Joey Romeo and Betsy Kravitz.

Betsy Kravitz, Joey Romeo and …

… a very happy customer. (Photos/Dan Woog)


Readers: on your marks!

The Westport Library has announced a Summer Reading Challenge. There are 25 “challenge lists.” The goal is to read at least one book from as many challenges as you can.

There’s a form to submit after each one — and a leader board, because hey, there are no baseball standings to follow.

The challenges are challenging. They include a book that spans generations; that makes you laugh (and another that makes you cry); about an election; from the teen collection, and about a battle. Click here for all 25.

The “competition” runs through September 7.


Sure, the weather is beautiful this weekend. But if you’re looking for another reason (besides COVID-19) to stay inside, here’s one: Complete the census.

This weekend, as I’m sure you know, is Census Digital Action Weekend. I’m not sure what that means, but click here for the link.


Stan Witkow provides another update on his weekly Thursday Virtual Bingo game. (That’s the one where anyone can join — and the winner chooses a charity to get the buy-in pot.)

This week they surged past $1,200 overall. The recipient was Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger. The “house” made a special $25 donation to the Connecticut Food Bank too.

For more information, email Stan@witkow.com.

A scene from the Virtual Bingo game.


The Staples High School girls soccer team is collecting food for the Gillespie Center.

Needs include canned chicken, low-sugar cereal, canned vegetables (low sodium), canned fruit (low sugar), peanut butter and jelly, dry mil envelopes, pasta sauce, rice, hearty soup, mac and cheese, crackers, salad dressing, and ketchup, mustard and mayo.

Toiletries and cleaning supplies like shampoo, soap, deodorant, tooth care and feminine products, dish soap, laundry detergent, sponges, cleaners and bleach are great too.

The drop-off location is 12 Indian Hill Road. For more information, email aly.sivinski@gmail.com.


And finally … it’s Saturday! So of course tonight that means:

COVID-19 Roundup: ReBooked; Star Cakes And STAR; Marina And Dump Rules; More


One of the highlights of the Westport Library year is its Booked for the Evening fundraiser. One of the other highlights is the announcement of the star.

Past honorees include Tom Brokaw, E. L. Doctorow, Calvin Trillin, Wendy Wasserstein, Pete Hamill, Martin Scorsese, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Will Shortz, Patti Smith,  Jon Meacham, Nile Rodgers, Lynsey Addario, Alan Alda, Justin Paul, and Frederic Chu.

This year’s Booked for the Evening is a two-fer: Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, Pulitzer-prize winning authors of “She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story that Helped Ignite a Movement.”

Unfortunately, the spring event has been postponed. A new date has not been announced. Library officials reassure their many fans: It will be rebooked, for some evening!


Le Rouge Aartisan Chocolates announces its newest creation — and a new chance to make a difference.

For every ⭐️Star Cake⭐️ ordered this Mother’s Day season, owner and ace chocolatier Aarti Khosla will donate another cake to a “star mom” fighting the COVID-19 pandemic on the front lines. Click here to order, for curbside pickup or delivery.


New rules went into effect today at the transfer station.

Everyone must wear a mask. The number of vehicles entering the facility will be limited and monitored. During high traffic days (Saturdays, Mondays), cars must queue in a single line on the Sherwood Island Connector.

Transfer station personnel cannot assist residents with the removal or disposal of solid waste from vehicles. Do not bring bulky items that require assistance.

During the pandemic, all fees and collection of refuse tickets will be waived.

Social distancing is strictly enforced. Every other parking space is blocked off.

Just think: Every Saturday morning before COVID, this was the center of Westport social life.

(Photo/Michael Calise; hat tip Dick Lowenstein)


Compo Beach is closed to vehicular traffic. But anyone with a boat slip at the Ned Dimes Marina will be mailed a temporary allowing entrance to the marina Lot. Town officials emphasize: This is only to provide access to boats!


This Thursday (April 30, 9 a.m.) the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce sponsors a free networking event with 1st Selectman Jim Marpe. Click here to register, and find out how the town is coping with the coronavirus.


Yvonne O’Kane is a great friend to STAR Lighting the Way. During the pandemic, she’s led Zoom art and garden classes for participants with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

One was on flower arranging; she’ll follow up soon with a virtual tour of her gardens. Also ahead: preparing simple yet elegant hors d’oeuvres. Yesterday’s class was on rock decorating.

They all look beautiful. But I’m partial to the one that says “06880.”


Ilene Strizver writes: “I have moved locally and have furniture to donate. Goodwill does not take furniture at this time, and all consignment shops are closed. Do any readers know where to donate, possibly with pickup, during the virus? I’d hate to trash everything, and would rather not post on Facebook.”

Ideas? Click “Comments” below.

Not Ilene’s furniture.


Shoreline Pharmacy — the “old-fashioned” drugstore near the Southport line — closed yesterday. Owners Phil and Karen Hein opened near Shake Shack 3 years ago.


Staples High School junior Chloe Ashton won 2nd place in State Senator Will Haskell’s essay contest. He invited students to write essays describing what they’d focus on, if they were elected to public office. Chloe focused on changes to the Electoral College.

Haskell planned to visit schools and present citations to the winners. With schools closed indefinitely, he’s posting a video on social media, and writing each winner a personalized note.


And finally … thanks, Josh Groban. You raise me — and everyone else — up!

COVID-19 Roundup: Bank Of America, Bottles And Cans, Library, Yoga, Lax Food Drive And More


Bank of America’s 3 Westport locations — downtown, between Starbucks and the Maserati dealership, and on the Southport line — are closed until further notice.

The nearest open BOA location is 578 Westport Avenue, just over the Norwalk border.


The Westport Library’s doors are closed. But its online presence has never been more active.

Staffers are adding new resources all the time. Digital content, programming, resources, exhibits — you name it, it’s all there. Click here to “enter” the library.

It’s “virtually” the same as being there!


For more than 6 years, Westport writer/director Chris Bolan has been working on a Netflix Original movie. It’s about Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel, 2 women who fell in love in 1947. They kept their relationship a secret for over 6 decades.

Their remarkable journey — and eventual decision to come out late in life — forms the basis of “A Secret Love.” Bolan is Donahue’s great-nephew.

He says, “Given the world we currently live in and the amount of uncertainty, fear and upheaval we all face, uplifting stories like this have never been more important. We could all use a love story like this right now.”

Click on the trailer below. Then be sure to watch the entire film next week!


At this point in the year, the Staples High School boys lacrosse team should be deep into their season: playing games, hosting car washes, giving fans something to cheer about.

They can’t do any of that. But they are still coming together as a team, to support their community.

They’ve organized a food drive to collect non-perishable items and cleaning supplies for Homes with Hope’s food pantry. It runs from today through next Tuesday (April 28).

Items can be dropped off at 199 Bayberry Lane. No glass, please! Questions? Email bhoward0222@gmail.com.

From left: senior Ben Howard, Livy Howard and sophomore Charlie Howard.


Richard Jaffe writes: “I’m not going to bring back my ever-growing mountain of returnable bottles and cans any time soon.

“Is there a group out there that will safely return them and collect the deposit money, hopefully for one of the many not-for-profits trying to help (like our very own Westport Department of Human Services)?

“What does $10, $30 or $100 per household add up to? Something meaningful.”

If you or your organization “can” take those returnables off Richard’s hands — to donate to a worthy cause — click “Comments” below. And if others have bottles and cans they’d like to donate, add your name too.


Like a number of other instructors, Paula Schooler has moved her weekly yoga therapy classes online. She’ll teach Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m., Wednesdays at 2 p.m., beginning next week.

As a show of appreciation for front line personnel, Paula will donate $5 from the suggested donation of $15 per class to the American Nurses Association’s local chapter.

She’s also working with Miggs Burroughs on a design for t-shirts with one of the best slogans ever: “NamaSTAY@OM.” That’s so good, on so many levels.

To register or for more information, call 203-226-6465, or email stringofpearls36@aol.com.


And finally … what better way to end another week of isolation than with a little Survivor?

COVID-19 Roundup: MakerSpace Masks; Music Gigs; Sailplane Solo; Charitable Giving; More


The Westport Library is closed (though it’s online presence is more active than ever). But its MakerSpace is wide open — and doing its part to make and supply PPE to medical personnel across Connecticut.

Westport has partnered with other spaces in the region — Fairfield County Makers Guild in Norwalk; Make Haven in New Haven; Danbury Hacker Space — to assemble face shields. Ours is the only maker space affiliated with a library.

Led by Mike Altis, the MakerSpace has already 3D-printed more than 200 pieces of PPE, such as plastic headbands. After printing, parts are dropped off for final assembly at partnering maker spaces.

Mike prints a headband every 4 hours on the library’s two best 3D printers.

Due to a shortage and slow shipping of supplies, and the need for strict distancing guidelines (only one person in the space at a time), the Westport Library has not produced completed face masks itself.

Fortunately, Mike just received materials. Soon, he and his helpers will assemble completed face shields in their own space.

MakerSpace masks at the library.


Rothbard Ale + Larder posted on Facebook yesterday: “Rothbard will be closing permanently, but we hope this is not goodbye.

“Walrus Alley will be taking its place, with American southern-inspired flavors and dishes you are sure to enjoy. Stay tuned for the occasional Rothbard pop-up, especially in October.

“We hope to see you again.”


Trader Joe’s is closed again today. It is believed another employee contracted the coronavirus.


Like many musicians, 2007 Staples High School grad Drew Angus has been hit hard by the coronavirus.

All gigs through the end of May were canceled. So too have many through August. As a “non-traditional” worker, he’s had a tough time accessing federal and state unemployment benefits.

How’s he coping?

Creatively. After a successful Zoom happy hour for friends last week, he launched “Zoom Pop-Ins.” You can book Drew for a song (or a few) for online birthday parties, Mother’s Day, anniversaries, business meetings, happy hours, whatever. They work especially well as surprises. Click here for more info

Drew also offers drive-by concerts for anyone stuck at home in a 15-mile radius of Westport. He pulls into your driveway, stays safely away, opens his mobile sound system, and plays.

And he teaches virtual guitar and voice lessons. (“Pick up a new quarantine skill!” he suggests.)  Email DrewAngusMusic@gmail.com for concerts and lessons; click here for his website.

Finally, click here for his new single, Mr. Gemini — an introspective rock tune about understanding yourself. (If you buy it on Bandcamp, 85% goes directly to Drew.)

Here’s the stop-motion video. He made it with his marketing manager, Weston High graduate Shari Goldenberg. While strictly socially distancing, of course!


Robert Jacobs has found a new way to self-isolate: soaring solo in a sailplane.

Alone in the sky 8,000 feet above the earth — with no other aircraft around — he feels safe and joyful. The other day, he shot this video:


A reader writes: “My wife and I are looking more closely at our 2020 charitable giving. This is a year for priorities. We want to give where it will have the most immediate and needed benefit, starting with our general community and moving outwards from there.

“For us, food, health, and shelter will come first. Most everything else is on hold. That includes many other very worthy areas.”

How about it, readers. What are your priorities, and why? There are no wrong answers, just opinions. Click “Comments” below.


Spotco — Tommy Greenwald’s marketing, advertising and branding agency — is renowned for its work with Broadway shows.

But with the Great White Way dark, what can they do? Well, how about an uplifting, inspiring video starring Lin-Manuel Miranda?

In just 60 seconds, he manages to let everyone know that after this “intermission,” Broadway will be back with a great 2nd act; offer a way to help people in need, and also provide info on options to assist those in the industry. Take a peek:


Seen on the internet, and worth repeating: “You know all those small businesses you always ask to help out for your silent auction, program book or other fundraiser? Well, it’s time to repay the favor.”


And finally … thanks, Kelly Clarkson, for your words of wisdom!

COVID-19 Roundup: School District Help; Who’s Open, Necklaces, Goggles And More

Earlier today, interim superintendent of schools Dr. David Abbey emailed a district-wide update to all parents.

He noted many examples of how — behind the scenes — the Westport Public Schools are helping the town deal with COVID-19. For example:

The district has transferred “a significant amount” of personal protective equipment to town agencies. School nurses and health assistants have helped organizing and distributing that equipment — hundreds of N95 masks, cloth masks, gloves and gowns — as well as thermometers and office supplies.

In addition to PPE, the townwide science department has supplied goggles for firefighters.

The school district has distributed sanitizing wipes, cleaners and hand sanitizers to fortify the town’s supplies. In addition, they have provided access to equipment for sanitizing emergency vehicles and office spaces.

Collaborating with the Westport Weston Health District and Department of Human Services, school nurses are also reaching out to older Westporters through weekly phone check-ins. Besides checking on their clients physical and mental health, the nurses help them obtain vital supplies like medication and food.

School security officers have monitored athletic fields, to help limit the number and size of gatherings.

Chartwells — the school district’s food service vendor — is providing grab-and-go meals for Westport police officers. The district is also working closely with Human Services to identify and support school families in need of food beyond the grab-and-go lunches and breakfasts that are currently provided.


A number of Westport retailers are doing all they can to stay afloat. They offer curbside pick-up and delivery on items in stock; some even have new spring  inventory.

But among their many problems: How can people know they’re open?

Betsy Pollak helps, big time. Her “Our Town Crier” online newsletter is usually chock full of shopping news. Retailers pay to be mentioned.

In true community spirit, Betsy’s latest edition is totally free. Called “Curbside Enthusiasm” (great name!), it offers info, details, hours, links and photos for a ton of merchants: ASF, JL Rocks, Silver Ribbon, Arogya Tea and more. (Click here to view.)

Jennifer Tooker, Melissa Kane and Matthew Mandell helped compile the information.

A 2nd edition is in the works, for Mother’s Day. It’s perfect for restaurants as well as retailers. To be included, email info@ourtowncrier.com.


The Senior Center has started a YouTube channel for residents to stay active. It includes 39 Zoom courses focusing on mental and emotional health, fitness, creativity and wellness. To register for a class, call 203-341-5099. Click here to sign up for email updates. For more information, email seniorcenter@westportct.gov.

In addition, the Southwest Connecticut Agency on Aging has developed a helpful guide with plenty of information for seniors and their families. Click here to view.


Staples High School junior Eliza Oren makes gorgeous necklaces. She’s selling them for $10 each. Proceeds go to the Gillespie Center, to help pay for food and other items needed during the current crisis.

She’s already sold nearly $1,000. When she reaches that goal, her parents will match it.

You can Venmo her: @elizaoren. Or you can leave cash in your mailbox; she’ll pick it up. For details, email elizaoren@yahoo.com.


Need a reminder to wear a mask? Kevin Carroll spotted this, at Weston Gardens:


The other day, Julia Marino put out a plea for ski goggles. They help protect healthcare professionals working with COVID-19 patients.

As usual, “06880” readers came through. Yesterday her mom, Elaine, brought 34 pairs to a nursing home in Milford.

Julia is a member of the US snowboard team. And a gold medal winner in Westporters’ hearts.

PS: The bin will be out again through tomorrow evening. To donate new or used goggles (adult or children’s size): sanitize them with wipes or spray, place them in a sealed plastic ban, then leave them on the front steps at 129 Sturges Highway (near Cross Highway). Questions? Email esmarino@msn.com.


Werner Liepolt reports that he recently tried to download a new book, but his Westport Library card had expired.

No problem! The library staff renewed it remotely, and within minutes he was reading. The email is Circulation@westportlibrary.org.

(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)


And finally — though Rachel Platten did not record “Fight Song” about COVID-19 — it sure is apt these days:

Lillian Wald: The Sequel

Tuesday’s “06880” story on the Westport Library’s suffragist exhibit included some information about Lillian Wald. 

The Round Pond Road resident was revered nationally for addressing social ills like child labor and racial injustice. She worked tirelessly for immigrants’ rights, world peace and women’s full franchise. 

But there is much more to Lillian Wald’s story. Kathie Motes Bennewitz and Bob Weingarten fill in the blanks.

Lillian Wald was born in 1867 in Cincinnati. She graduated from high school at 15, and spent the next 6 years traveling around the globe. After moving to New York City she studied nursing, then entered the Women’s Medical College become a doctor.

In medical school she volunteered her services to the immigrants and poor on the Lower East Side. She became so engrossed in that care that she left medical school. In 1893 she organized the Henry Street Settlement and Visiting Nurse Service of New York. She found her calling.

Henry Street Settlement.

Wald was a dynamic organizer. She started with 10 nurses. By 1916, 250 nurses served 1,300 patients a day.

She worked out of 265 Henry Street, a 5-story walk-up, cold water building on the Lower East Side. Wald helped to educate those she served on health care and personal hygiene, and expanded to assist in housing, employment and education. In 1903 she persuaded President Theodore Roosevelt to create a Federal Children’s Bureau.

Lillian Wald

In later years, Wald was recognized for her efforts in nursing and as an author.

In 1970 she was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Great Americans through the dedicated effort of Aaron Rabinowitz — Ann Sheffer’s grandfather — who knew Wald from childhood, and in the 1930s had moved to Westport to be near her.

She had come to Westport in 1917, as a summer resident. When she retired, she moved full-time to the 1868 house on the pond across from Longshore. She enjoyed watching neighborhood youngsters skate there in winter.

The library exhibit focuses on her suffrage work. In 1914 Wald wrote::

Democracy brings people nearer together…. When women share equally with men the responsibility for righteousness in government and when their counsels on matters of public welfare are given the dignity the ballot bestows, there will follow a new sense of comradeship, a new sense of fellowship between men and women: woman win not be the unacknowledged power behind the throne—she will share the throne!

The suffrage movement in Connecticut.

In the 1910s Wald hosted suffrage events at the Settlement, and delivered addresses. On November 4, 1915, she fed supportive “watchers and pickets” at Lower East Side assembly districts as men voted on New York state’s suffrage amendment.

These polling sites, The New York Times reported, were lively with “constant cheers and cries of ‘Votes for the Women!’ from small boys in the street. Here and there an Italian voice chimed in ‘Vota for Women.’”

When she left New York for Westport, a stream of distinguished guests visited. Eleanor Roosevelt came several times, enjoying tea and staying at the home of Ruth Steinkraus on Compo Road South.

Lillian Wald’s House on the Pond.

In 1937, the First Lady visited for Wald’s 70th birthday. She wrote:

The neighbors in Westport got together and made a book for her, one of the most interesting books it has ever been my pleasure to see. Westport is the home of many artistic people, but this included the names of all her friends, even if their talent was only that of being able to love another fine human being.

They all signed their names, those who could draw, drew pictures, those who could write, wrote verses and prose, and I think that book will be for her a joy in many hours when she perhaps would not have the energy to take up any occupation, or even to look at anything new.

I was interested in the cover of this book, nicely worked in cross-stitch, but designed so that many of her daily interests were right there for you to pick out. Two little Scotties down in the corner; the ducks which waddle down to the pond and eat chunks of bread up near the house; the birds of peace.

Lillian Wald’s birthday book cover. It is owned by Ann Sheffer.

Wald is by far the most famous — but just one of many fascinating Westporters whose stories are told in the Westport Library exhibit. Click here to access the full gallery.

Lillian Wald’s house today.

 

Westport Suffragists: Neighbors, Crusaders

The Westport Library’s new exhibit — “Westport Suffragists — Our Neighbors, Our Crusaders” — opened in early March.

A week later, the library shut down.

Along with so much else, COVID-19 has robbed residents of the chance to visit an inspired, inspiring tribute to an astonishing group of women who worked creatively and energetically for years. Finally a century ago, the passage of the 19th Amendment changed history.

Fortunately this is 2020 — not 1920. Thanks to the internet, anyone anywhere can see the Suffragists exhibit.

And everyone everywhere should.

Designed by the library’s Carole Erger-Fass, in partnership with town arts curator Kathleen Motes Bennewitz, the exhibit is broad and deep.

In text and photographs, it shows the women (in Westport and beyond) who pushed suffrage forward; the places in Westport where significant events took place, and the (long) timeline during which it all happened.

Who knew, for example, that the then-brand-new library at the corner of the Post Road and Main Street was an important meeting place for early suffragists?

The original Westport Public Library

The exhibit notes:

On January 27, 1912, the public library’s handsome oak-paneled hall was transformed into a political theater bedecked with American flags and purple, white and green suffrage banners. The occasion was the Tri-County Crusade for Votes run by the Connecticut Woman Suffrage Association (CWSA). From January through March, the campaign held rallies at every town with trolley service—46 in all—across Fairfield, New Haven and Hartford counties.

Among the artists — the first wave of progressive people to live in Westport — fighting for a woman’s right to vote was Rose O’Neill. Known today as the creator of the Kewpie character, she was also an illustrator dedicated to women’s empowerment. She even used her Kewpies to send a message: “Give Mother the Vote.”

Lillian Wald

Lillian Wald is revered for her work building awareness of, and helping solve, pressing social ills like child labor and racial injustice. She founded the Henry Street Settlement and Visiting Nurse Service of New York, aiding thousands of immigrants. She also worked tirelessly in support of world peace and women’s full franchise.

In 1917 Wald came to Westport as a summer resident. When she retired, she moved full-time to a house on the pond across from Longshore. There she entertained a steady stream of guests, including Eleanor Roosevelt.

Sara Buek Crawford

O’Neill and Wald get their due in the library exhibit. But so does Sara Buek Crawford, a Westporter I’d never heard of. She was a leading suffragist — and, 20 years after the 19th Amendment was approved, she became the first woman in Connecticut ever elected to statewide office.

It’s all there — plus much more — in the Westport Library’s suffrage exhibit. Everyone — of every age, and both genders — should click on, and learn from it.

(Click here for the “Westport Suffragists: Our Neighbors, Our Crusaders” exhibit. Click here for information about more Westport Library exhibits and galleries.)