Category Archives: Library

Friday Flashback #28

Before South Moon Under. Before Klaff’s. Before Muriel’s Diner, shaped like a trolley car.

Before all that — on the block between what is now Taylor Place and the Taylor parking lot, across the Post Road from what is now Starbucks and what was then the very new Westport Public Library — stood this very handsome row of buildings.

klaffs-block-in-1915

Click on or hover over to enlarge. 

According to Seth Schachter — who sent this fascinating 1915 postcard — the area was traditionally called “Hulbert’s Block” (or perhaps “Hurlbutt’s,” for the famed Weston family). This is the first time he’s seen it called “Post Office Block.”

The post office is at the far right (with a bicycle leaning against the pole). A store belonging to Wm. E. Nash is in the center.

As a bonus, here’s the back of the postcard:

friday-flashback

The sender — “Leffer” — tells Miss Jeannette Smith (in beautiful penmanship) that’s he (or she) has marked the building in which he (or she) will live with an “X.” You can see it on the far right of the postcard — just above the post office.

Meanwhile — totally coincidentally — just yesterday I received this photo from Lee  Saveliff.

It shows the entire block — this time, from the perspective of the corner of the Post Road near Main Street. Taylor Place is on the left. Club Grill later became Muriel’s Diner. Click on or hover over to enlarge.

taylor-place-and-club-grill

Lee says that her great-grandparents — Leonard and Julia Gault — owned the Club Grill building. The larger one — closer to the river and bridge, with Pat’s Diner and Achorn’s Pharmacy (!) — was owned by the Klaff family.

This shot looks to be from the 1940s or ’50s. In November of 1974, the block burned to the ground. Lee saw the flames from her home, on Imperial Avenue.

Maker Faire Moves From Mini To Massive

Six years ago, Mark Mathias and a small group of believers brought an intriguing event to Connecticut.

They hoped 800 people would share and enjoy interactive, interdisciplinary, interesting exhibits.

They got 2,200.

The event — called a Mini Maker Faire — grew each year. Over 25,000 folks — of all ages, genders and from 100 miles away — have come at least once.

Interactivity is a major draw for the Maker Faire.

Interactivity is a major draw for the Maker Faire.

This year, Mathias expects a record 10,000 attendees. It will be especially notable for 2 reasons:

  • It’s set for Earth Day (Saturday, April 22), and …
  • It’s no longer “Mini.” The event is now an honest-to-goodness, full-fledged, grown-up-but-still-way-cool “Maker Faire.”

maker-faire-logoMathias is very excited about this 6th annual celebration, at the Westport Library and Jesup Green. He and his crew have drawn together a community of young and old males and females of all races, religions and economic levels. They’re technology enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, artists and students. All share a love of creativity, innovation, tinkering and fun.

Some show off their work, in a dazzling variety of fields. Some wander around, observing and questioning and learning. Some do both.

Small businesses find customers, inventors and suppliers. Large businesses showcase their products and employees — and find talent and ideas.

"The Great Fredini" is constructing an entire scale model of Coney Island, with a 3D printer. Faire-goers could have their own body scanned -- and printed -- to be included.

“The Great Fredini” is constructing an entire scale model of Coney Island, with a 3D printer. Faire-goers had their own body scanned — and printed — to be included.

The theme for this year’s Maker Faire is “Earth.” Organizers hope it will be Fairfield County’s main Earth Day celebration.

As the Maker Faire has grown (and shed its “mini” status), Mathias and his fellow devotees have continued to do yeoman’s work. Right now they’re seeking makers (those who showcase their work); volunteers (who make it all happen), and sponsors (corporations, philanthropists and foundations).

To be a maker or to volunteer, click here; then select the “Participate” menu. If you’d like to be a sponsor, email mark@remarkablesteam.org, or call 203-226-1791.

See you at the Faire!

Word!

It wasn’t quite curling up with the New York Times crossword.

More like racing through it, trying to beat dozens of other crossword aficionados. The grand prize: A book (about words) donated in your name to the Westport Library.

Your name on a new plaque.

And — 24 hours before the Super Bowl — the knowledge that you’re a champion in a competition using (instead of destroying) brain cells.

It happened this afternoon: the Library’s 18th annual Crossword Puzzle Contest.

Jeff Wieser was ready for the Crossword Puzzle Contest. The countdown clock is in the background. There were 3 preliminary rounds, of 20 minutes each.

Jeff Wieser was ready for the Crossword Puzzle Contest. The countdown clock is in the background. There were 3 preliminary rounds, of 20 minutes each.

I was there for the 1st time. The McManus Room was filled with fellow puzzlers. Many had come to previous contests. A few had been to every one.

Eric Maddy came all the way from Huntington Beach, California (and wore shorts). He seemed to know a lot of folks. Crossword solvers have created quite a community.

But there were plenty of familiar faces. Sitting across from me was Jeff Wieser, CEO of Homes With Hope. On my right was Alan Southworth, the 2010 Staples High grad/musician/marathon runner/crossword creator (he hopes Will Shortz will select one of his puzzles for the Times).

Will Shortz: New York Times puzzle editor, Westport Library contest host, all-around cool guy.

Will Shortz: New York Times puzzle editor, Westport Library contest host, all-around cool guy.

Shortz himself — the Times puzzle editor/NPR host/Indiana University enigmatology major — was at today’s contest too. He served as the genial, wisecracking, challenging host.

The diverse, high-energy crowd was perfect for Shortz. And he had 3 strong puzzles — a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (in ascending order of difficulty) for us.

I did not win. I did not make the cut as one of 3 finalists. I am, however, extremely proud to say that I did receive a perfect score on all 3 puzzles.

I earned a certificate for that, signed by Will Shortz himself.

A couple dozen others got certificates too. It was that kind of group.

And that kind of only-in-Westport afternoon.

PS: The 3 puzzles will be published in upcoming Times editions. Will gave us the back stories about them. One is by the youngest creator in Times history. When we heard that, no one in the room felt smart at all.

You might even call us clueless.

The 3 finalists. Andy Kravis (right) of New York City won, finishing a Friday puzzle in a blazing 4:50. Eric Maddy (center) finished 2nd. He came all the way from California -- and received ed a Westport Library tote bag in appreciation.

The 3 finalists. Andy Kravis (right) of New York City won, finishing a Friday puzzle in a blazing 4:50. Eric Maddy (center) was 2nd. He came all the way from California — and received a Westport Library tote bag in appreciation.

From now on, the winner's name will be etched on a plaque bearing the name of Howard Brody. As the

From now on, the winner’s name will be etched on a plaque honoring longtime puzzle fan Howard Brody. As the award notes, he “never had a cross word for anyone.”

The Last Night Shall Be First

Tonight, Westport celebrates the final night of 2016 with a First Night celebration.

The family-oriented event includes a slide at Saugatuck Elementary School …

first-night-2016-slide

… Dennis the Train Man at the Westport Library …

first-night-2016-trains

… and a telescope for stargazing on the banks of the Saugatuck. In the background are launch boats, for the 8 p.m. fireworks.

first-night-2016-telescope

Hundreds of volunteers — including 1st Selectman Jim Marpe and Jacqueline Devine — make First Night possible:

first-night-2016-jim-marpe-and-jacqueline-devine

It all takes place in and around downtown. There’s music, magicians and more at Town Hall, Toquet Hall, Jesup Green, the Westport Historical and Christ & Holy Trinity Church, through 10 p.m.

first-night-2016-light

Last-Minute Shopping At The Library

Folks flock to the Westport Library for many reasons. We check out books and DVDs. We conduct research, use the computers, enjoy the Maker Space, meet in conference rooms, hear a speaker, grab a coffee.

Now there’s another attraction: holiday shopping.

The gift shop — really just some tables near the circulation desk — is stocked with unique gifts for all ages, interests and styles. Manager Heli Stagg has found an “Abe” locket made from real pennies; small tech gadgets, games and toys; even literary temporary tattoos produced by Staples High School grads Danny and Corey Fein.

"Literary tattoos," created by a pair of Staples grad brothers...

“Literary tattoos,” created by a pair of Staples grad brothers…

All proceeds help support the library.

But time is tight. They’re open until 9 p.m. tonight and tomorrow (Thursday); from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday — then closed on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

... and other holiday gifts available at the Westport Library.

… and other holiday gifts available at the Westport Library.

 

Nile Rodgers: Booked For The Hall Of Fame

Two years ago, Nile Rodgers — the longtime Westporter/musician/ producer/ composer/arranger — received a great honor: He was the Westport Library’s “Booked for the Evening” star.

Now he’s booked on an even bigger stage. On April 7, he’ll receive the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Award for Musical Excellence.

He’ll be in good company for the Brooklyn ceremony. Pearl Jam, Tupac Shakur, Joan Baez, Electric Light Orchestra, Journey and Yes are fellow honorees.

Nile Rodgers

Nile Rodgers

Make no mistake. Our neighbor is an impressive addition to the roster of the Rock Hall’s Music Excellence honorees — a list that includes Leon Russell, the E Street Band and Ringo Starr.

Rodgers has performed or produced for everyone from Sister Sledge (“We Are Family”) to Duran Duran, David Bowie, Madonna and Britney Spears. In 2014 — the same year he gave a rousing performance at the library — he earned Grammys for Record of the Year and Album of the Year (for Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories”).

He’s also an influential guitarist with Chic (“Le Freak”). But for the 11th time, his famed band has not made the Hall of Fame cut.

NIle Rodgers with Chic ("Le Freak") -- back in the day.

Nile Rodgers with Chic — back in the day.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Westport’s latest rock legend called the announcement — he’s in, the group’s out — “bittersweet.” Click here for the full Q-and-A, all about his Chic years and after.

Then — when you’re finished reading — let’s dance!

(Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein)

 

 

Westport Library’s Iconic Eikon

It’s been there in the Westport Library — right near the reference desk — since spring.

You might not have noticed it.

But plenty of business executives, investors, entrepreneurs and job seekers have.

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

It’s a Thomson Reuters Eikon database. And Westport is the only public library in Connecticut to have one.

The financial analysis tool enables users to track market, company and economic data. It’s sophisticated, strong — and completely free.

For Westport Library patrons, that is.

If you installed one of these babies in your office or home, or on a mobile device, — according to published rates — it could cost up to $1,800 a month.

Thomas Reuters donated both the hardware and software to our library. They’re looking to expand their market, and thought making it visible — in a community that cares very much about the markets — would be a smart move.

Feedback has been great. Eikon is used often, by a variety of folks for a host of reasons. It’s already led to positive results for job seekers, as they’ve researched potential employers before interviews.

But this is not our library’s only just-one-in-the-state database. For the past few years, LexisNexis has provided legal and business research — also free. That’s a donation too, from the Berchem, Moses & Devlin law firm.

Our library is amazing. In fact, there’s none other like it in Connecticut.

You can take that to the bank.

Photo Challenge #102

Old-timers call it “Needle Park.” Newcomers refer to it as “the place at the corner of the Post Road and Main Street, near the Calypso store.”

Either way, it was the answer to last week’s photo challenge. There’s a large concrete urn (perhaps a planter?) there now, which fits in with the drab, gray surroundings.

Once it was a vibrant park next to what was then the Westport Library. It attracted its share of “hippies” — hence the derogatory “Needle Park” — along with many others.

It was supposed to remain a park in perpetuity. Well, they paved paradise and — you know the rest. (Click here to see last week’s photo; click here for an “06880” story on Needle Park.)

Congratulations to Shirlee Gordon, Joyce Barnhart, Bob Grant, Dan Herman, Anthony Palmer and J. Wagner, all of whom knew where to find the photo — whatever they called it.

As for this week’s photo challenge: No, it didn’t snow here last week. But Lynn U. Miller found this mound anyway. If you know where in Westport she took this shot, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

I Voted!

The signs are ready…

election-day-2016-1

The surrogates (like Mike Calise) are in place…

election-day-2016-6

The coffee is hot…

election-day-2016-2

The doors are open…

election-day-2016-3

The instructions are clear…

election-day-2016-4

Election 2016 is on…

election-day-2016-5

May the best man — or woman — win!

Riverwalk Reflections

westport-from-the-riverwalk-anne-bernier-2016

Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photos/Anne Bernier)

Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photos/Anne Bernier)