Category Archives: Longshore

Pic Of The Day #521

Longshore Sailing School (Photo/Carolyn McPhee)

100 Teens, 370 Pounds Of Trash

Longshore is a beautiful park.

It’s well-cared-for, lovingly maintained — almost spotless.

Yet you’d be surprised what you’d find there.

Or rather, what the Assumption Church youth group and Staples High School AP Environmental Sciences classes found yesterday.

Over 100 teenagers gathered nearly 370 pounds of trash and debris. Their haul included plastic, golf balls (a huge maritime hazard), part of a car windshield (!), and what appeared to be a rusted piece of a large boat engine.

That last piece of junk was too heavy to carry. So 2 boys borrowed a cart from the E.R. Strait Marina, and added it to the items they disposed of.

The event was part of Save the Sound‘s Coastal Clean-Up Day.

Marine life, golfers, and everyone else in and around Longshore thanks all who helped!

A large tire was one small part of yesterday’s Longshore trash haul.

(Hat tip: Michele Harding)

Friday Flashback #106

Another summer is nearly over. Kids no longer crowd the Longshore pool. A few older swimmers do their final laps, before it’s closed for the season.

Which makes this a great time to look back at the days when there was an actual high dive there.

Marie Corridon jumps off the Longshore high diving board in 1946. It was a private club then — but the high dive remained for years after 1960, when the town of Westport bought the property. (Photo courtesy of James Corridon)

It was imposing. Jumping off was a test of courage. It kept the lifeguards on their toes too.

When was the last time you saw a sight like this?

Pic Of The Day #488

Longshore Sailing School adds color, on a gray day (Photo/William Armstrong)

Finding A Pearl In Plastic Straw Debate

Pearl at Longshore has joined the movement to lessen the use of plastic straws.

The popular waterfront restaurant has gone a step beyond changing its practice, too. The other day Andrew Colabella — the RTM member who is introducing a townwide plastic straw ordinance — talked to the staff about the importance of the effort.

He described the negative effects of plastic on the human body, land and — particularly appropriately for Pearl’s location — water.

Andrew Colabella addresses the Pearl staff at everyone’s favorite spot: the patio.

“Pearl has always been committed to community and the environment,” the restaurant says.

Straws will no longer be offered with beverages unless asked for. All straws, stirrers and cocktail picks have been replaced with similar items in bamboo and paper.

Pearl understands that people suffering from Parkinson’s and other neurological and muscular disorders need plastic straws. They will still be available for those diners.

Restaurant owners hope that after Colabella’s presentation, their front-line employees — servers and bartenders — can raise awareness, answer questions and alleviate concerns of customers.

No more plastic straws at Pearl.

Remembering Billy Hess

Billy Hess — the popular and longtime Joey’s by the Shore employee, who ran the Longshore concession stand — died yesterday. Last year, he was diagnosed with lung cancer.

Last year, Joey’s owner Joey Romeo told “06880”:

Billy has been the heart and soul of Joey’s for 30 years. Known for his selfless demeanor and permanent smile, he loves Westport and serving our customers.

In addition to an unparalleled work ethic, he’s the unofficial “Mr. Fix-It” of Compo and Longshore. Whether changing a flat tire, retrieving a kite from a tree or repairing a broken beach chair, he’s always there and eager to help — whether he knows you or not.  He’s the first to volunteer and the last to take credit.

Billy is survived by his wife Gina, and 3 daughters.

He also leaves behind countless friends: customers he served with passion and dedication, and workers he mentored with love and care.

Billy Hess with his wife Gina and daughters.

Photo Challenge #182

Last week’s photo challenge was perfect.

Ken Palumbo’s image showed a quirky bit of Westport. Everyone has passed by it. Almost no one notices it. It’s literally hidden in plain sight.

The photo drew a few quick guesses — close and plausible. But wrong.

Then Lynn Untermeyer Miller, Joelle Harris Malec, Tammy Barry and Kiri Woods all checked in with the right answer.

The shot showed a weird little figure hunched behind the large marble globe at the entrance to Longshore.

You can’t see it from South Compo Road.

Yet it’s visible to every golfer, jogger or walker, though. There’s one on the other side of the entrance too.

How many of us have ever looked?

Here’s a larger — and uncropped — photo:

The view from the Longshore entrance road, looking toward South Compo. (Photo/Ken Palumbo)

The little figures — they’re actually “foo dogs” (aka “Chinese guardian lions” are  true wonders of Westport. If you know the story “behind” them, click “Comments” below.

Click “Comments” too if you know where in Westport you’d see this week’s photo challenge. HINT: This is also a place many of us pass by regularly. Do you recognize it here?

(Photo/Marguerite Webb)

Friday Flashback #93

Earlier this week, I posted a story about Deej Webb’s great new book about F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s memorable 1920 sojourn in Westport. The central thesis is that those 5 months influenced everything else the famous author wrote — including “The Great Gatsby.”

Webb’s “Boats Against the Current” is filled with fascinating photos — notably several of Frederick E. Lewis’ 175-acre property that later became Longshore.

There’s this, of the mansion that we now know as the Inn at Longshore and Pearl restaurant:

(Photo/courtesy of Alden Bryan)

There were references too to Lewis’ lighthouse. It may have inspired some of the scenes in The Great Gatsby.

I’ve posted the photo below before. But I erroneously identified it as showing a big bash at Longshore. In fact — according to Webb — this is “a glittering summer party, complete with band, at the Lewis estate.” It certainly does look Gatsby-esque.

There’s also this fascinating map, drawn in 1921 by noted artist John Held.

Held included the lighthouse (right above the words “Long Island Sound”).

Check out the enormous boat sailing up the Saugatuck River, just south of downtown.

And — if you’re really eagle-eyed — you’ll notice that Held misspelled Bridge Street as “Brigde.”

What else stands out? Click “Comments” below.

Wired!

Nearly every day, alert “06880” reader Morgan Mermagen runs by Longshore.

For a month she’s seen wires hanging so low, she can actually touch them.

It’s the same on Hales Road:

(Photos/Morgan Mermagen)

They’re strung through loops, and are not affixed at each pole. The slack allows them to hang low in one place, high in another.

At first Morgan thought the wires were part of a storm clean-up, and on someone’s to-do list. Now she wonders what’s going on, and why no one has done anything.

She does not know who they belong to: Eversource? Optimum? Someone else?

She hopes someone will pay attention.

Hopefully now, someone will.

For Scott And Zelda, Westport Was Far More Than A Summer Fling

When Richard “Deej” Webb was 14, he read “The Great Gatsby.”

Through his bedroom window across from the Minute Man monument, he could see the house that — decades earlier — F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald once rented.

In between was Longshore. Deej caddied, biked and ran there. He knew every inch of the property well.

In 1996, when Barbara Probst Solomon wrote a New Yorker story claiming that Westport — not Great Neck, Long Island — was the inspiration for Gatsby’s “West Egg,” Webb was fascinated.

By then he was teaching US history at New Canaan High School. But the 1980 Staples graduate’s heart — and home — remained here.

Webb studied Solomon’s theories. He researched Longshore, and environs. Convinced she was right — and that Westport, in fact, influenced both Fitzgerald and his wife far more than anyone realized — Webb spoke to whomever he could.

Many Fitzgerald scholars and fans were interested. Most Westporters, he says, were not.

In 2013 Webb participated in a Westport Historical Society roundtable examining the town’s literary past. Organizer Robert Steven Williams — a novelist — asked Webb if he’d like to collaborate on a documentary about Fitzgerald’s time here.

The film will be shown on public television this fall. A companion coffee table book — “Boats Against the Current” (taken from a famous “Gatsby” line) — will be published next month.

The book cover shows the iconic photo of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, in front of their South Compo house. The image was Photoshopped — long before that term came into general use.

“Boats” is thoroughly researched, lavishly illustrated, and immensely educational. It should be required reading for every Westporter.

Webb and Williams took Solomon’s original thesis — that Fitzgerald’s home next to the 175-acre estate of reclusive millionaire Frederick E. Lewis (now Longshore) informed not only the author’s physical description of Jay Gatsby’s mansion, but also much of the novel’s emotional power — and expanded it to encompass nearly the entire Fitzgerald ouevre.

In 1920 — when F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald lived in Westport — F.E. Lewis owned a magnificent next door. His mansion (above) now serves as the Longshore inn, including Pearl restaurant. (Photo/courtesy of Alden Bryan)

In 1920, his first book — “This Side of Paradise” — had just been published. Fitzgerald was making great money. He and Zelda were newly married — and kicked out of New York’s finest hotels, for debauchery.

Westport was their honeymoon. It was also their first home. Here — especially at Lewis’ next-door estate — they enjoyed celebrity-filled orgies. And they skinny-dipped at Compo Beach.

Zelda at Compo Beach — before (or after) skinny-dipping. (Photo courtesy of “Boats Against the Current”)

Their experiences and memories — along with the town’s sights and smells — all became part of “Gatbsy”; of “The Beautiful and the Damned”; even of Zelda’s paintings, Webb says.

In fact, he adds, “Westport shows up in their works more than any other place they lived.”

The back story of Lewis — a descendant of one of the wealthiest families in American history — is particularly fascinating. He’s not a familiar name. But his parties at what later became Longshore — which the Fitzgeralds surely must have attended — were beyond legendary. One even featured Harry Houdini. (Yes, he performed an escape trick right there.)

His and Williams’ painstaking work has been accepted by many Fitzgerald scholars, as well descendants like granddaughter Bobbie Lanahan.

Robert Steven Williams (left) and Richard “Deej” Webb flank the Fritzgeralds’ granddaughter Bobbie Lanahan.

The New York Times recently published a story on Webb and Williams’ project. The international attention was gratifying.

But the duo have a more local concern too.

All around town — including Webb’s boyhood Compo Beach neighborhood — homes are being torn down. Big new houses are replacing older ones with important  histories.

Webb and Williams worry the same fate may befall Fitzgerald’s house. And, they fear, few people will care.

The current owners, Webb says, “are fantastic. They’re well aware of the significance, and treat it with great respect.”

But there’s no assurance a future owner will not tear the 1758 structure down.

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

There is only one museum in the world dedicated to F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. It’s in Montgomery, Alabama, where he wrote portions of 2 novels.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful, Webb and Williams ask, if at some point the town could buy the house, and turn it into a “Fitzgerald Center”?

“Sometimes Westport has amnesia about its history,” Webb says. “It’s an incredible past. It’s hard to find an American town that has more. But it’s disappearing in front of our eyes.”

Of course, as a history teacher — and amateur historian – Webb knows the one thing that never changes is change.

When the Fitzgeralds arrived in 1920, he says, “farmers in  Westport worried about all the New Yorkers coming in.”

With their lavish parties and skinny-dipping orgies, those newcomers had a new way of doing things.

One hundred years later — thanks to F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald — those Westport days live on.

And — thanks to Deej Webb and Robert Steven Williams — they’re memorialized forever.

(To pre-order “Boats Against the Current” on Amazon, click here; through Barnes & Noble, click here.)