Category Archives: Longshore

Friday Flashback #155

In early 1960, the town of Westport bought the failing private Longshore Beach & Country Club. The 169-acre property included a golf course, tennis courts, pools, marina, inn/restaurant, residential cabins, even 2 private roads.

Plus — why not? — a lighthouse.

The entire process — from concept to approval from the Board of Finance and (unanimously!) the RTM — took just 18 days.  Town officials put together a $1.9 million package, then earned approval from the Board of Finance and RTM.  The latter vote was 38-0. 

Five years later, the Westport Town Crier published a remarkable aerial photo of what was then the still-novel town-owned country club.

(Aerial photo/Robert Lentini)

Moving counter-clockwise from the center, you can see the old tennis court locker rooms, and adjacent wooden bathhouses (though you can’t see how dark they were, or smell their decades-old musty odor); the original Longshore Sailing School; several cabanas by the old pool — and, partially hidden by trees next to the marina, the circular lighthouse.

It was always a source of fascination for kids, and admiration by adults.

The lighthouse survived one demolition attempt in the late ’60s or early ’70s. Eventually — when the entrance to the pool area was modernized — it was torn down.

Here’s what we miss:

(Photo courtesy of Peter Barlow)

(Hat tip: Fred Cantor)

Pic Of The Day #848

Gray’s Creek Revolutionary War cemetery at Longshore (Photo/Kathie Motes Bennewitz

Batsh*t Bride Comes Home

First came “Groundhog Day.” Then “Independence Day.”

A new film takes place on April 1. It’s not called “April Fools Day” — the title is “Batsh*t Bride” — but the premise is clear.

Just before her wedding that day, a bride pranks her fiance by saying they should break up. Unfortunately, he feels the same way. Everything spirals out of control from there.

Jonathan Smith’s indie feature — starring Meghan Falcone as Heather — debuts August 26 at Stamford’s Avon Theatre. The venue is signifcant: “Batsh*t Bride” was filmed throughout Fairfield County.

Many scenes took place right here, including Christ & Holy Trinity Church and Longshore and Pearl restaurant. A number of Westporters had roles as extras.

The first scene the filmmakers shot was Heather’s failed wedding. Cinematographer Jason Merrin worked on it while in town for his own wedding.

A local blog posted the call for extras. Expecting only a handful of people, Smith planned his camera angles creatively. However, the Christ & Holy Trinity pews were packed.

Lights! Camera and action came later. (Photo/Ellen Bowen)

Many extras were then recruited for other background shots. One was even given a line.

The ballroom and hotel scenes were all shot at The Inn at Longshore. But the production was allowed in only on Monday through Wednesday, for 2 consecutive weeks.

Smith liked Longshore so much, he rewrote several sections to fit the grounds. He added in golf and kayak scenes.

Tickets to the premiere are $10. Chez Vous Bistro offers a $25 prix fixe 2-course dinner prior to the screening, while Flinders Lane Kitchen & Bar has happy hour drink prices and complimentary appetizers after the screening (with ticket stubs).

Email batshitbride@gmail.com for tickets and dinner reservations.

Friday Flashback #153

Lou Nistico is fondly remembered as part of the family that owned the Arrow — the beloved Italian restaurant in Saugatuck (it’s now Mystic Market).

In the mid-1970s though, he was also the concessionaire at Longshore. His daughter Joanne was the bartender.

At the time, Westport was the illustrators’ capital of the world. They worked at home, but socialized often.

A group of cartoonists often played golf, then headed inside for martinis. Joanne calls them a “fun and wild group of talented men.”

One day during lunch, they dashed off this collage for Lou:

Famous names are included: Tony DiPreta (who drew “Joe Palooka”), Bud Jones (“Mr. Abernathy”) and Bob Gustafson (“Tillie the Toiler”).

Dick Wingert’s “Hubert” looks half in the bag, as he raises a glass to “Lou the Great!”

But check out Stan Drake’s “Juliet Jones,” and his/her R-rated comment.

Then look at Curt Swan’s Superman next to Grace — and his wandering eyes.

They make a nice couple. Their cartoon kids would have been gorgeous.

Unsung Heroes #109

Alert — and grateful — “06880” reader Peter Boyd loves the Longshore pool.

“It’s an incredible town resource,” he says. “For just the price of a handpass, you can swim in a well-kept pool surrounded by the Long Island Sound. It’s great.”

Last week — following an energy-sapping heat wave — the temperature dropped substantially. Then it rained.

But Peter is intrepid. At 5 p.m., he headed to Longshore to swim.

No one was there — no one, that is, except a man named Jay. He’d covered his computer — used to check those handpasses — with a trash bag.

Jay welcomes swimmers to the Longshore pool.

He cheerfully told Peter that the pool was open according to the published schedule — rain or shine. It’s closed only during thunderstorms, and for 30 minutes afterward.

“He was happy to let me in,” Peter says. “And the lifeguards were happy to come out to ensure I was safe.

“They’re a great team. Service was cheerful and professional, as always. Whether it’s a crowded weekend in the sun or a deserted weekday in the rain, we are very lucky to have them.”

Thank you, Jay and everyone else at the Longshore pool. You are our Unsung Heroes of the Week!

Rain or shine, the Longshore pool is a town gem. (Photos/Peter Boyd)

Pics Of The Day #802

One view of a beautiful evening at Longshore …

… and another (Photos/Laura Bryer)

Fore!

Alert — and safety conscious golfer — Philip Corbo writes:

I am an avid golfer. My handicap is around 4. I hit the ball in excess of 100 mph.

At Longshore, the entrance road runs between the 6th and 7th holes. Although I generally keep the ball in play, that was not the case on my 7th hole tee shot the other day.

My shot headed directly for a car. Our group heard a loud bang. We thought the worst.

Fortunately, it hit a speed limit sign. There was no damage to the car, or anyone.

Not 30 seconds after my errant shot though, a person came into view pushing a stroller — at the exact spot where the sign was.

The sign on the Longshore entrance road is clear. (Photo/Philip Corbo)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve warned people of the dangers, but it seems to fall on deaf ears.

Ten or so years ago, someone was pushing a stroller down the same road. The toddler was not so lucky. The ball took one bounce off the road, and struck the baby in the head. The infant spent the next several months in the hospital — and was lucky to live.

Longshore is a beautiful place for a stroll — but it is not the place for babies in strollers.

I hope this message garners attention. It is an accident waiting to happen — again.

Protect Longshore’s Plover

Alert — and environmentally conscious — “06880” reader Maureen Choe and her 7-year-old daughter had a magical morning walk with their dog Cookie this morning.

Around 8:15 a.m., Mirabelle discovered a perfect intact nest with a nervous squeaking mother bird nearby.

Maureen and Mirabelle think is a piping plover’s nest. They spotted beautiful eggs out in the open, at risk for dogs, other animals or curious people.

They went home, made a sign and put it up, warning folks to stay away.

They made calls to several local organizations. They finally reached Becky Newman, naturalist at Earthplace. She agreed that the public should remain far from the nest.

Becky also provided contacts at the Audubon Society in Milford, which holds special training programs on piping plovers.

It may not be a piping plover, Maureen notes. She’s unsure if it’s protected by the state or not.

Still, she says, it’s a vulnerable bird’s nest, out in the open near the Longshore pool. She hopes people give the bird — shown here sitting on her nest — and her eggs their space.

(Photos/Maureen Choe)

Finally, Town Honors F. Scott Fitzgerald

On May 14, 1920, a young couple signed a 5-month lease for a modest gray cottage on Compo Road South.

It was not big news. In fact, it took the Westporter-Herald — the local newspaper that chronicled every visitor, gathering and event in town — until the next month to run this small item:

“F. Scott Fitzgerald, a writer, has leased the Wakeman Cottage near Compo Beach.”

The iconic shot of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, in front of their Westport home.

But the honeymoon home of Fitzgerald and his new bride Zelda — they’d gotten married on April 3 –had a profound impact on both. It appears in more of their collective works than any other place they lived.

With good reason. The couple drank and partied all summer long.

On May 14, 2019 — 99 years to the day after that now-legendary lease-signing — Westport will officially recognize that event.

The cottage that once abutted larger-than-life multimillionaire Frederick E. Lewis’ property (now Longshore Club Park) still stands. Today it’s a handsome home. First Selectman Jim Marpe will stand there, and declare “Great Gatsby Day” in town.

The official proclamation — a combination of legalese and whimsy — begins:

“Whereas, it was an age of miracles. It was an age of art. It was an age of excess and it was an age of satire….”

F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald slept — and partied — here, on South Compo Road.

But that’s not the only Fitzgerald-Westport connection this month.

On Saturday and Sunday, May 18 and 19, the Westport Community Theater presents a costumed stage reading of The Vegetable.

If you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry.

Richard “Deej” Webb — the Westport historian who collaborated with Robert Steven Williams on a film and book that describe the Fitzgeralds’ Westport sojourn, and make the strong case that it heavily influenced The Great Gatsby — calls it “his worst work.”

The Vegetable is Fitzgerald’s only full-length play. It was his lone attempt to establish himself as a successful playwright, and his sole foray into political satire.

The plot involves an accidental president who undergoes impeachment. Coming during the corrupt administration of Warren Harding — who died the year it was published — it was “ahead of its time,” Webb says.

To call it forgotten today is an understatement. According to Webb, it was last performed in the 1990s.

The WCT has modified it a bit. What Webb calls “a racist scene” has been edited out.

That may have been a product of its time. But nearly a century later, impeachment is back in the news.

And — at least in Westport — F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald are too.

(The staged reading of The Vegetable is Saturday, May 18 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, May 19 at 2 p.m. For tickets, call 203-226-1983.)

Pics Of The Day #740

Golf balls at Hendricks Point, by the Longshore driving range (Photos/JP Vellotti)