Category Archives: Longshore

Photo Challenge #267

There’s always a story.

Last week’s Photo Challenge showed an easily identifiable — well, to anyone who lived here through the 1970s, anyway — painting.

I called it a lighthouse. I wrote that for decades it stood between the marina and pool entrance at Longshore — near where the pavilion and snack bar are now. (Click here to see.)

So that was not the challenge. I asked: Where can you see this painting today?

Fred Cantor, Joyce Barnhart and Lynn Untermeyer Miller all know: In the lobby of the Parks & Recreation offices, at Longshore a few yards from the 1st tee.

Then Richard Stein chimed in. He found this painting at a tag sale at the Red
Barn restaurant, on Wilton Road.

It was coated with dust, cobwebs and dirt. He had it cleaned and repaired, then donated to the Westport Permanent Art Collections, with the request that it hang at Parks & Rec office.

He added that a label on the back said “Horowitz.” The name “Harriet” appears at the bottom of the painting, along with “’71” — presumably indicating it was done in 1971.

Jill Turner Odice quickly added some details: Her mother, Julie Turner, was friends with Harriet Horowitz. They painted and played tennis together in Westport, between 1966 and ’89. “This painting is in her style,” Jill said.

That’s the story. Except for even more information, courtesy of Stein. He’s been told that some of the granite foundation stones of the tower are still there, in the marina parking lot.

Plus this: It was not actually a lighthouse. Stein says it was an observation tower.

“06880” readers truly are on top of everything.

This week’s Photo Challenge should ring a bell. If you know where in Westport you’d find this, click “Comment” below.

And of course, provide the back story.

(Photo/Ed Simek)

 

Friday Flashback #178

It’s still a couple of months until the opening of the Longshore golf course.

But the other day, alert “06880” reader Phil Bancroft spotted an interesting item on an online auction site: A score card for that very course, signed by Babe Ruth.

Nearly 7 years ago, I wrote about that week in 1946 the Bambino spent at the River Lane home of Dr. Vito Caselnova, a longtime friend. The doctor was chairman of the golf committee at Longshore, at the time a private club.

Ruth played on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon with Caselnova; Ruth’s physician Dr. George Irwin; Norwalk police commissioner Thomas Murphy, and club pro George Buck. The Sultan of Swat shot a 79, highlighted by a 35-foot eagle putt on the 12th hole.

Babe Ruth at Longshore. (Photo courtesy of Norwalk Hour)

Babe Ruth at Longshore. (Photo courtesy of Norwalk Hour)

The next day, Hour sports editor Williard Williams wrote that Ruth “did not dub a shot. His drive was good, his approach shots excellent, and his putting almost perfect.

“In between his golf, he shook hands with scores of persons introduced to him on the course and took care of autographs for the youngsters who swarmed all over him. The Babe was as gracious as ever and seemed to enjoy it all.”

Ruth played several more times at Longshore that week. His partners included US Senator Brien McMahon.

Babe Ruth autographs a baseball for George "Nookie" Powers. A nurse looks on.

Babe Ruth autographs a baseball for George “Nookie” Powers. Powers’ fiancee looks on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruth also visited Norwalk Hospital, where he met Westport firefighters injured in a horrific Post Road truck blaze. He signed baseballs for — among others — brothers Nookie and Chick Powers. Both had been legendary athletes at Staples.

Just 2 years later, Ruth was dead from cancer. It started in his throat, and moved to his brain.

Caselnova’s son, Vito Jr., told Albano:

When he stayed with us he used to complain about headaches. He would come downstairs in the morning, go right to the refrigerator, and pull out a can of beer. Not to drink it, but to rub the cold can over his head. He said it made him feel better.

He said he was going to come back next year, but he never made it. He said he was going to bring another player with him, a guy named Joe DiMaggio.

Bancroft remembered all that. But he was fascinated by something more: the score card itself.

The hole numbers, distances and pars were different from today’s course. He was confused too by some of the rules.

So Bancroft went sleuthing. Comparing a 1934 aerial view (below) with one from 1965, he determined that although none of the yardages are the same, identifying the par 3s and par 5s seems to fit — if today’s 17th hole is made into the original hole number 1, and today’s 16th is the original 18th.

A1934 aerial photo. Longshore is at the center; Compo Beach at the bottom of the image.

He adds, “Rules regarding balls on the then 2nd and 3rd holes have similar rules to today’s 18th and 1st. And the roads mentioned related to then holes 13 and 17 would be today’s 11th and 15th holes.”  

Bancroft concludes that when Babe Ruth played Longshore, the road ran to the left of today’s 11th hole. Today it runs down the right hand side. Today’s 11th and 12th holes would have been “oceanfront,” with 12 having an “over-ocean tee shot at high tide, and mud at low tide.”

Fore!

The holes that Babe Ruth played.

Here’s The State Of Westport

The state of the town is strong.

The state of our schools is too.

Those verdicts were delivered by 1st Selectman Jim Marpe and Board of Education chair Candice Savin yesterday.

A large, inquisitive crowd packed the Westport Library. The 3rd annual State of the Town meeting was sponsored by our 2 Rotary Clubs.

Marpe began by citing 2 newly improved facilities: the library itself, and the Senior Center.

He also mentioned that Westport has the highest life expectancy in Connecticut, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Our neighborhood averages range from 82 years all the way to 89 (Old Hill area). Who knew?!

1st Selectman Jim Marpe, at yesterday’s “State of the Town” meeting.

Among the 2019 accomplishments, Marpe pointed to:

  • New accessibility projects at Compo beach, and environmentally friendly turf fields
  • Wakeman Town Farm improvements
  • Sasco Brook’s de-listing from the state register of impaired waterways
  • The town’s new mobile-friendly website
  • The Police Department’s innovative technology and equipment, including increased capability to respond in a crisis, and the groundbreaking Tesla 3 patrol car
  • Improvement projects at our 2 railroad stations
  • A 7% decline in Fire Department 911 calls, in large part due to proactive efforts in schools and the construction industry

The Westport Fire Department has made a determined effort to educate Westporters about fire safety.

  • Ongoing investments to upgrade commercial properties downtown and on the Post Road
  • 3rd Selectwoman Melissa Kane’s leadership of improved town wayfinding
  • 2nd Selectwoman Jen Tooker’s leadership of the “Westport Means Business” series
  • Commitment to be a NetZero community by 2050; rebranding “Sustainable Westport”; the RTM’s legislation on replacing single-use plastics; adding new solar energy capacity; switching 1,300 street lights to LED bulbs, and a “Zero Food Waste Challenge,” which includes a free pilot program for dropping off food waste at the transfer station (beginning April 1).
  • Consolidation of police, fire and EMS public safety dispatch centers with Fairfield
  • Automating building and land use processes with the Planning & Zoning, Building, Conservation, Public Works, Health District and Fire departments.

Building in Westport is becoming easier, with enhanced communication among town bodies. (Photo/Jaime Bairaktaris)

Of course, there are challenges. Marpe mentioned:

  • Traffic. He, the police and Public Works are scheduling RTM district public meetings to identify practical, realistic solutions.
  • Affordable housing. We have 3 years left on our moratorium under the 8-30g state statute.
  • The need to enhance Longshore, and other town facilities
  • Keeping the tax mill rate flat, as it has been for about 5 years. Marpe noted that financial reserves are at or ahead of “our conservative targets,” and that pension and post-employment benefit assets are “very well-funded.”

Marpe concluded his prepared remarks by noting:

Westport is and will continue to be among the most attractive towns in the tri-state area to raise a family, educate children, create and grow a business, and retire.

We are a truly rare and wonderful combination of a small, charming New England town committed to celebrating our past and preserving our history, and also a cutting-edge community that fosters innovation, creativity and progress.

Westport preserves its past and looks to the future, says 1st Selectman Jim Marpe. (Photo/John Videler for VIdeler Photography)

Board of Ed chair Savin said that the Westport School District is “strong, and getting stronger,” in areas like academics, arts, special education and athletics.

She noted the district’s focus on social and emotional health, safety and security — and combating vaping.

Among the challenges: reopening Coleytown Middle School, the budget, and the search for a new schools superintendent.

She said the board and community must “continue to invest in students, professionals and infrastructure.”

Board of Education chair Candice Savin’s presentation included slides like these, showing renovations to Coleytown Middle School.

Moderator Jeff Wieser then read questions from audience members.

Marpe was asked about his biggest budgetary challenge. “The capital forecast — school and town projects,” he said.

Regarding empty storefronts on Main Street, he pointed to new businesses coming in, along with “mom and mom” stores owned by local residents. He noted that the P&Z wants to improve efficiencies of town processes, and praised Regency Centers — owners of several large Westport shopping areas — for recent upgrades of their properties.

Marpe also said that the Downtown Merchants Association and Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce are working hard to attract new businesses.

Asked about the relationship with the Westport Museum for History & Culture, the 1st selectman said that the town no longer stores records there, eliminating a $7,500 storage fee. He said that although this year the town helped fund the Museum’s First Light celebration, he was “troubled” when he realized some of the money went toward employees’ salaries.

“We are working with them to recover that portion” of the funds, he said.

However, Marpe added, “the tone of a lot of comments (on ‘06880’) were not what Westport is about. It was like cyber-bullying. I appeal to residents to step back. You’re talking about people who live down the street from you.”

Regarding traffic, Marpe said the most significant impact comes from Waze. He acknowledged frustration with timing of Post Road lights, and said the town is in “regular communication” with the state Department of Transportation.

When the highways get crowed, Waze sends drivers through Westport.

As for Joey’s at the Shore, Marpe described the town’s 30-year relationship with the former beach concessionaire. He said they parted ways “without hard feelings.” An RFP has been issued for Compo, the skating rink/pool and golf course halfway house.

Seven or eight “well qualified” responses have been received. Bids will be open this week, and Marpe is optimistic that the new concessionaire will continue Joey Romeo’s “warmth, style, sensitivity and food.” He warned though that it may not be “fully operational” by the start of beach season.

In response to Board of Ed questions, Savin said that there are contingency plans in case CMS is not ready to reopen next fall; that pushing school start times back 30 minutes for all schools will be on the February 3 and February 10 agendas, and that declining enrollment is more challenging at the middle school level (because of the team approach) than in elementary schools and Staples High.

When the meeting was over, the town officials were not through. Members of the audience continued to ask questions. Marpe and Savin kept answering them.

Photo Challenge #265

“Anyone for tennis?”

That’s not quite what the sign — last week’s Photo Challenge — said.

It read: “Looking for a game?” That made it a bit harder to identify.

But Fred Cantor, Amy Bedi, Lynn Untermeyer Miller, Ben Sturner and Karen Kim all knew that it hangs outside the main tennis courts at Longshore. (Click here to see.)

Last week was not exactly tennis weather. This week’s Photo Challenge is a bit more wintry. If you know where in Westport you would see this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Kathie Motes Bennewitz)

Pic Of The Day #986

Longshore grave (Photo/Mary Sikorski)

Pic Of The Day #985

Longshore PAL skating rink, at dusk (Photo/Johanna Rossi)

Pic Of The Day #976

Longshore golf course wildlife (Photo/Carolyn McPhee)

Pics Of The Day #975

Special “morning ice in Westport” edition!

This morning’s ice, on Cross Highway …  (Photo/Tom Wambach)

… and Old Hill Road … (Photo/Joel Treisman)

… and Edgemarth Hill Road … (Photo/Nicholas Hatsiandrou)

… and Indian River Green … (Photo/Betsy P. Kahn)

… and Compo Beach … (Betsy P. Kahn)

… and in Greens Farms … (Photo/David Squires)

… and the Minute Man … (Photo/Tammy Barry)

… and Longshore … (Photo/Tammy Barry)

… and the Old Hill neighborhood … (Photo/Chuck Greenlee)

… and the Compo Beach playground … (Photo/Dave Dellinger)

… and Bittersweet Lane, off Cob Drive … (Photo/Ellen Patafio)

… and Greens Farms Road at Maple Avenue South … (Photo/Dick Lowenstein)

… and Highland Road … (Photo/Ellen Wentworth)

… and Keenes Road … (Photo/Johanna Rossi)

… and Greens Farms Elementary School, from Crate & Barrel. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Pic Of The Day #956

Longshore entrance, at night (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Shock Waves: Joey’s Out As Beach Concessionaire

For over 30 years, one of the joys of Compo Beach has been Joey’s by the Shore.

Joey Romeo has been more than just a concessionaire. He’s developed the most extensive menu of any beach food shack anywhere (he’s also sold beach towels, chairs, hoodies and more). He’s opened on spring weekends long before the official beach season, and been there on fall weekends long after the summer crowds have gone.

Joey Romeo, in a typical pose.

He’s the friendliest guy you’ll know, with a great, hard-working staff of (this is a rarity) Westport kids. He makes sure they’re polite, efficient, and that they keep the area spotless.

So it was a shock to learn from Parks and Recreation director Jennifer Fava just moments ago that Joey’s By The Shore will no longer operate the concession at Compo Beach — or the others at the Longshore Pavilion and Longshore halfway house — effective immediately.

Fava says, “Regrettably, Mr. Romeo has advised us that he will not pay the full rent due in 2019 under his lease, nor is he willing to fulfill his remaining 3 years under the lease. We have made every effort to negotiate mutually acceptable terms, but we have not reached an agreement with him.”

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

First Selectman, Jim Marpe added, “We appreciate the many years of service Joey has provided to the community, especially at Compo Beach, providing food for our beachgoers and jobs for some of our young adults. We will be working to get a new concessionaire in place to meet the needs of our residents and users.”

I’ve reached out to Joey for comment. Anecdotally, I’ve heard (though not from Joey) that last year — in the aftermath of new, heftier fees for Westonites and other out-of-towners, and a limit on the number of daily passes sold — was a tough one for him.

I’ll follow up when I hear back. In the meantime, here’s a tip of the Compo cap to Joey Romeo, and all his staff, for their 31 years of loyal, loving service to Westport.