Category Archives: Looking back

Day Tripper

Yesterday’s New York Times NY/Region section included a “Day Trip” feature to Westport.

Readers in the tri-state area — around the world, really — learned some interesting things about our town.

The itinerary begins at Match Burger Lobster, Staples grad Matt Storch’s new restaurant next to Fleishers Craft Butchery. Who knew that his kitchen crew shucks more than 500 pounds of lobster each week — or that lobster tastes better in winter, because cold water makes it sweeter?

From the restaurant, the story suggests, visitors can walk over the William F. Cribari Bridge. It’s named, the Times says, for “a beloved traffic conductor,” though “beloved traffic cop” is a bit clearer.

Bill Cribari, “beloved traffic conductor.” (Photo montage courtesy of Paul Ehrismann)

“The short span provides vistas of the nautical town and entree to uninterrupted sidewalks through a Gold Coast neighborhood of mansions that are not above running weekend tag sales,” the paper excitedly reports.

The next 3 paragraphs talk about F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s 1920 rental on Compo Road South, near the Longshore entrance. Friends said the couple were “reveling nude in the orgies of Westport,” even though Zelda called the town “unendurably dull.” Imagine what they would have done in a livelier place!

F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald slept — and partied — here.

“Day Trip” moves on to “secluded Compo Beach.” The Times describes it as “rocky (and) shell-studded….Tranquil and contemplative in winter, the sunsets are gorgeous.”

The final part of a day in Westport, apparently, should be a stop at the Black Duck. The paper calls it a “watering hole,” and singles out this feature: the $11 martini.

The martini “may be the biggest on the Eastern Seaboard, a further way to unwind after a leisurely day. Founded in 1978, too bad it wasn’t around for the Fitzgeralds,” the Times concludes, with both lame humor and a dangling modifier.

The best place for an $11 martini. (Photo/Chou Chou Merrill)

(Hat tip: Peter Perry)

Rockin’ Around The Vimeo Feed

It was the like one of the 1960s Staples High School concerts with the Doors, Yardbirds or regular Byrds: Sorry, sold out!

Fifty years after those legendary shows, a Westport Cinema Initiative showing of a documentary about them left plenty of folks standing in the lobby.

The movie — “The High School That Rocked!” — was a labor of love. Class of ’71 alum Fred Cantor (who somehow managed to miss all of those concerts, back in the day) teamed up with 2014 grad Casey Denton (an Emerson College film major who had a better reason for missing them: He would not be born for another 3 decades).

The resulting story of how the Doors, Cream, Sly & the Family Stone, Yardbirds, Animals and Rascals came to Staples — and what happened when they did — is fascinating and compelling. Also very, very cool.

Last summer’s SRO audience of 300 in Town Hall loved the video. Thousands of others wondered if they could see it too.

Now they can.

Earlier today, Vimeo released “The High School That Rocked!” in the US and Canada, via video on demand. (Click here to stream it now.)

It’s well worth the half hour. And I’d say that even if I was not one of the interviewees.

Though he’s glad the film is now available to all current and former Westporters, Cantor believes there’s a much wider audience out in Vimeo land.

He’s right. You don’t need any connection with Staples to download “The High School That Rocked!” You just have to be a fan of the best music ever.

Of course, if you don’t know anything about Westport, you won’t get the sly reference in the credits at the end.

The film was produced by “Sally’s Record Dept. Productions.”

high-school-that-rocked-poster

 

 

Historic Homes, Modern Videos

Westport’s first schoolhouse was built in 1812. With YouTube still 2 centuries in the future, you’d figure kids would have had few distractions, and could pay attention to the teacher.

On the other hand, with 37 students in one class, youngsters probably found other ways to goof off.

That first schoolhouse is now a private home. It — and 6 others — are featured on the Westport Historical Society’s upcoming Holiday House Tour (Sunday, December 10, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

The WHS honors the past — but its other foot is planted firmly in the present. So they’ve taken to YouTube to promote this annual fun fundraiser.

The video below offers tidbits about that original schoolhouse. (It’s also the location of what may be Westport’s first swimming pool. Who knew?)

This one shows a Cross Highway home, dating back to 1764. A century and a half later — which is more than a century ago — it was owned by George Hand Wright, a renowned artist and one of the founders of Westport’s “arts colony.”

This quick video only hints at the wonders of “Duck Haven.” It doesn’t show where it is — but we all drive past it often. We see the front from one direction, the back from another. And we all wonder what’s inside.

On December 10, you can explore the interiors of all 3 houses — and 4 more.

They’re all worth touring. It’s a chance to see Westport’s historic past, decorated beautifully for the 2017 holidays.

(Click here for more information, and tickets.)

Remembering Tony Arciola

 In the long history of Westport, perhaps no Saugatuck native is more associated with Staples High School than Tony Arciola. A 1944 graduate, he returned there in 1950 to teach English. He later served as chairman of the English department. After retiring  in 1984, he promptly went back for 10 more years – this time as a special education aide.

Tony died on Wednesday. In 2004, I interviewed him at his Westport home for my book, Staples High School: 120 Years of A+ Education. Here’s what he said:

My parents came over from Italy, but my 6 brothers and sisters and I were all born here. I was the youngest. When I was growing up – and before and after –Westport was considered an excellent school system.

The Saugatuck community really respected Staples. The Arcudi family was always looked to as a good example of what good students could do at Staples. The Arcudi boys were the first from Saugatuck to go to Yale. But most families considered Staples the end of their education. Very few college graduates came from Saugatuck. There was a strong feeling that you needed to work after high school, and be “gainfully employed.”

I graduated from Staples in 1944. Our class was a pretty good blend. We were all pretty close, because the classes were small and we were grouped together. Sports were big, and organizations like Soundings and Inklings drew people together.

Norman Flint, the principal of Bedford Junior High School, handled Staples students’ applications to college. I was applying to the University of Connecticut. He saw my transcript, and told me I was going to Yale. I had never thought of it, but he was right on target. World War II was underway, and not everyone went to college. I took off a semester and worked at the Kellems cable grip factory in Westport, to augment my scholarship.

When I graduated from Yale in 1948 I commuted to Columbia, and got my master’s at the School of Education. I finished in the summer of  ‘49. I applied to different school systems, but there was low teacher turnover. I decided to substitute teach for a year, and got called to Staples. The Spanish teacher left after the first semester, so I became the full-time Spanish teacher – I spoke and read it fluently. I also taught adult ed. Then an English job opened up. I began teaching English in the fall of 1950.

Tony Arciola in the classroom, 1955.

Staples was a far different school than it is now. There were 3 teachers in the entire English department. Gladys Mansir taught 12th grade, V. Louise Higgins taught 10th, and I took Rhoda Harvey’s spot teaching 11th grade. Rhoda had been my English teacher. Much of my love of American literature came from her.

Gladys was such a scholar – such a strong person. She was a strong influence on me. Whenever there was anything to do – a committee to study the honor roll, write a guide for the research paper, organize a field trip – she asked me to do it. Those field trips were important. We went to New York City to see “John Brown’s Body” with Tyrone Power, which the students were studying in grade 11. A school trip like that commanded the attention of the press. There were photos in the paper of the kids on the bus

Tony Arciola, in the 1958 Staples High School yearbook.

In the beginning I taught 5 classes of American Literature – all of grade 11. We took a full quarter to teach the research paper. I’m not aware of any other school that focused on the research paper. We had the librarian from the Westport Library come in to help.

When we moved to North Avenue in 1958, the kids had to go outside, in rain and snow. That made a big difference. But we also had real labs, the theater program started, the sports teams got better because the gym was handy, and you could fit the whole school together in the auditorium.

As the school expanded, I became department chairman. We kept one Shakespeare play each year:  =“Romeo and Juliet” in 10th grade, “Macbeth” in 11th – the only exception to all American literature that year – and “Hamlet” in 12th. The research paper remained a constant for 11th grade too.

But as different teachers came in with different strengths, they added books. Teachers gave large group lectures, then followed up in individual classes. I lectured to the 10th graders on The Bridge of San Luis Rey. We met in the auditorium, and I had all kinds of AV materials.

1971 yearbook photo

I was department chairman for 10 years, until the system changed. We went to a house system, which never really worked. That’s when I went back to being a full-time teacher. By that time English teachers taught 4 classes, so we were able to make writing meaningful. We met with students, analyzed their writing, and worked with lay readers.

I retired from teaching in 1984, then went back for 10 years as a special education aide with Garry Meyers. That was a very important step for me. I was able to work one-on-one with students, in the best sense of the phrase. I got to know a lot of kids very closely.

As I look back, I think back to the year before I started as a Spanish teacher. I was a substitute, going around to different schools. Even then, I thought Staples was special. I think that comes from the community itself, which has always held education in high regard. The standards are always high, and the kids respond to teachers on a personal basis. The fact that English teachers have only 4 classes means teachers have time for individual students. They understand them better. Students feel that teachers are approachable.

Staples has always been in the forefront of many things. Inklings and Soundings are always on top in the Columbia Press Association contests. The sports program has always been held in high regard. But I think the caliber of teachers helps make it a special place. They’ve got great expertise. But they also care about kids, and they demonstrate it every day.

(Hat tip: Michael Calise)

1 Wilton Road: The Sequel

Earlier this month, “06880” reported on 1 Wilton Road. The quaint little building at the traffic-choked intersection with Post Road West and Riverside Avenue was going to be renovated by — and serve as headquarters for — the Vita Design Group.

1 Wilton Road, circa 1975. (Photo/Fred Cantor)

The renovation now looks like a demolition. “0688o” reader — and amateur historian — Wendy Crowther writes:

Morley Boyd and I have been watching the goings-on at 1 Wilton Road. We are disturbed by what has been happening there. Plenty of others have come to us expressing similar concerns. We’ve been looking into it, and thought readers might be interested in knowing a little more.  

The little house was built in 1830 – 5 years before Westport was founded — and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s been a grocery store, a vulcanizing business, a tire and battery emporium, a spirit shop and a knitting supply source.

But now it’s been shorn of its charming 19th century Italianate-style side addition, and just about everything else too — doors, windows, walls, siding, even the chimney – as part of a redevelopment project.

1 Wilton Road, from the rear. (Photo/Wendy Crowther)

Though the owner has characterized this as a renovation, many Westporters have asked if this is actually demolition. The Historic District Commission says yes. The Building Department says no.

Either way, one thing is clear: The intersection that Westporters love to hate was, until recently, pretty well preserved in terms of historic streetscape. With the major changes coming to 1 Wilton Road, the loss of this building’s original features and charming qualities will no doubt be missed by many.

1 Wilton Road, front view. The Wright Street office building looms behind it. (Photo/Wendy Crowther)

Historical Society’s New Exhibit Looks Forward — Not Back

Since 1889, the Westport Historical Society has focused on our town’s past.

From now through the end of 2017, it’s looking ahead.

Specifically, to 2067.

06880 + 50: Visions of Westport” is not as outlandish as it seems. The Historical Society’s exhibit — local architects’ ideas about this place, half a century from now — includes intriguing aspects, like what we’ll do with parking lots once we move around in driverless cars.

This contribution — from Roger Ferris + Partners — focuses on the Saugatuck River. In the future, it could be a unifying element between the east and west banks. New buildings, parks and community features will be constructed on both sides — and the river itself will be revitalized.

But there are some back-to-the-future elements too. One contribution, for example, envisions neighborhoods filled with clustered housing, walking paths, open space and farms providing much of the food — a way of life that Westporters centuries ago might recognize.

The intriguing exhibit had its genesis last year. Andrew Bentley — a member of the WHS advisory board, and a man committed as much to the future as the past — wondered what would happen if the organization cast its eye beyond old houses, toward new ones.

The WHS asked 40 architects who live or work in Westport to submit ideas about what this place will look like 50 years from now.

Andrew Bentley

Bentley chose 50 years because it is the Goldlilocks of futurism. Ten years from now, we’ll still have single family Colonial homes. A hundred years may bring Jetsons-style stuff.

Five decades, Bentley says, is “the sweet spot. Architects can release their inhibitions, without being crazy.”

More than a dozen responded. The request was open-ended — and so are the concepts.

Mounted on the WHS walls, they range from a full town plan, to a school design, to new street lamps.

They include a beautiful S-shaped pavilion and park behind Main Street, in space freed up by new modes of transportation. There’s a high-speed ferry terminal, linking the Saugatuck River with New York.

Homes may be made of innovative materials. One way to avoid teardowns is building houses using modular pieces, like Legos. Instead of demolishing entire structures, they could be modernized by replacing outmoded parts.

Some projections are practical. Others are fanciful. All are worth seeing.

Architect Robert Cohen drew this bridge. He foresees it linking 2 Coleytown gems: the Newman Poses Preserve and Blau Gardens.

Each contributor has been invited to present an hour-long “brown bag talk” about their visions, with Q-and-As to follow. They’ll be scheduled weekly, throughout the fall.

Bentley hopes that the exhibit spurs attendees into thinking about what Westport can be.

At the same time, he says, it will help us appreciate the talents and visions of the architects currently living and working here.

This is a very intriguing and enterprising project.

And perhaps — say, 50 years from now — the Westport Historical Society can revisit it, with a retrospective of what the town thought 2067 might look like, way back in that crazy year of 2017.

(The “06880 + 50: Visions of Westport” opening reception is this Friday, September 22, 6 to 8 p.m. The exhibit runs through December 31. For more information, click here.)

Skip Lane: From Scab To ESPN Star

Two games into the 1987 NFL season, the Players Association struck. The issue was free agency.

To break the union, team owners hired replacements. For 3 weeks, they played.

One of those substitute athletes — derisively called “scabs” — was Skip Lane.

He was well known in Westport. Lane was a 1979 graduate of Staples High School — where he starred at quarterback for his father, legendary coach Paul Lane — and then at the University of Mississippi.

Yet with only 5 Canadian Football League games behind him – and brief stints with the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs, after college — he was unknown to much of the football-loving American public.

In 1987 Lane was out of the game, working in commercial real estate in Fairfield County — a job he still holds.

But he excelled as a safety with the replacement Washington Redskins. They went 3-0 during the strike, culminating with a Monday Night Football win over a Dallas Cowboys team filled with veterans who had crossed the picket line.

Some fans wanted familiar players back.

When the 3-game strike was over, the Redskins released Lane. They went on to win the Super Bowl — but neither Lane nor his fellow replacements received a championship ring.

That story is part of an ESPN “30 For 30” documentary that aired Tuesday night. “Year of the Scab” explores the lives of the 1500 replacement players. They were “caught in the crosshairs of media fueled controversy between owners, players and fans alike,” the network says.

Lane is featured frequently in the video. He mentions his “buddies from Westport” who attended the game against the Giants. There were only 9,000 fans that day.

When the documentary premiered at a DC film festival in June, the Washington Post revisited that strange, controversial season.

Skip Lane today.

“I Always Hated Being Called a Scab” got its headline from a quote by Lane.

“I was just trying to get one more year, show people what I could do and even join the union,” he told the paper.

“Over the years, I’ve had no contact with the Redskins. Absolutely nothing.”

But, he says in the film, he has no regrets about playing.

Being a scab was “the easiest decision of my life.”

(Hat tips: Carl Swanson and Fred Cantor. Click here for the full Washington Post story. Click below for the full video.)

Remarkable Westport Weather

As Westporters worry about friends and relatives in Florida — and we all have them — let’s take a minute to recall that day when a thunderstorm here made national news.

No one alive remembers. It happened in June of 1837.

But it was reported in papers all across America.

For example, a story from Indiana’s Covington Western Constellation — headlined “Remarkable Effects of Lightning” — said:

During a thunderstorm at Westport, Conn. the chimney and one side of the house of Mr. Edwin Wheleer [sic] were literally [sic] torn to atoms — mirrors, chairs, piano, &c. scattered to the four winds of heaven, but out of ten persons in the room, even a young lady escaped, while the stove at which she was sitting was thrown down. A child had just been taken from a cradle which was torn to splinters. About 150 panes of glass were broken.

The paper misspelled Edwin Wheeler’s name.

But — according to alert “06880” reader and amateur local historian Mary Palmieri Gai, who found the article — the rest of his building survived.

How do we know?

Today’s it’s called Wheeler House — the handsome home of the Westport Historical Society.

Who knew there was so much history right in Historical Society headquarters?

Wheeler House — the Westport Historical Society’s Avery Place home — in a painting by famed local artist Stevan Dohanos.

Ann Sheffer: A True Westport Playhouse Star

In the mid-1960s, Steve Gilbert was a beloved Staples High School art teacher. After school — as technical director for Players — he taught students how to create the remarkable sets that gave that drama troupe some of its early renown.

Each summer, Gilbert had another job: general manager of the Westport Country Playhouse. His Staples connection gave him an easy pipeline to willing workers. He hired set builders, ushers, even parking lot attendants.

Some of Gilbert’s teenagers — like Lindsay Law and Ann Sheffer — went on to careers in theater or TV.

Nearly all recall those summers as defining moments of their lives. They learned so much about the arts. They interacted with stars, and struggling actors. They hung out there together after work, and formed lifelong bonds.

“That’s where we grew up,” Sheffer recalls.

Staples Players received a replica of the Globe Theater. Steve Gilbert is at far left; Ann Sheffer is on the far right.

On Saturday, September 9, she returns to the Playhouse. As part of the annual gala — which this year features “Hamilton” Tony Award nominee and Grammy winner Jonathan Groff — the 1966 Staples grad receives the Leadership Award.

It’s been in the works even before Sheffer was born. 

Starting in the 1930s, her grandparents spent summers and weekends in Westport. (Their property, on the corner of Cross Highway and Bayberry Lane, predates the Merritt Parkway and Nike site — which became the Westport Weston Health District and Rolnick Observatory.)

As a child, Sheffer’s grandparents and parents took her to the Playhouse. She still recalls sitting in those red seats, for Friday afternoon children’s shows.

The Westport Country Playhouse, back in the day.

At 15, she became one of Gilbert’s ushers. The Playhouse calendar included 12 shows every season, from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

The set would be struck Saturday night. A new one was constructed on Sunday. On Monday, the next play opened.

Going to the Playhouse was “the social event” of the week, Sheffer remembers. “People kept their own seats, and their own days of the week, for years.”

Much has changed — from summer habits to entertainment options to theater itself.

But Sheffer’s commitment to the arts — and the Westport Country Playhouse — never wavered.

Ann Sheffer

After graduating with a degree in theater from Smith College, she earned a master’s in theater administration from Tufts, and an MBA from the University of Washington. Sheffer worked with many non-profit arts groups, serving on boards at the local, state and national levels.

In 1999 — after decades assisting a variety of Westport organizations — Sheffer was asked to help plan the Playhouse renovation. During that long but fruitful process, she championed its history and cultural significance. That includes preserving posters from the Playhouse’s long history. They’re now displayed in the lobby.

She helped procure $5 million in bond money from the state. She also negotiated a $2 million grant to name the adjacent barn for Lucille Lortel, along with annual funds for new plays.

Sheffer has long supported the Playhouse’s education programs. Her brother Doug was a props apprentice in 1968. (That’s why every play featured furniture and other items from the Sheffer’s home — including Sheffer’s mother’s high school diploma, which hung on the wall when Shirley Booth starred in “The Desk Set.”)

In 1968, the Westport News profiled Playhouse apprentices. Doug Sheffer is shown in the photo at right.

Sheffer was a trustee until 2015 — “15 amazing years working with Joanne Woodward, Annie Keefe and a dedicated board” that completely transformed an old, leaky and unheated barn into a theater for the next generation.

When she accepts her award at the September 9 gala, Sheffer will no doubt speak about what the Playhouse has meant to her, for so many years.

She may also weave together some of the strands that continue to tie the Westport Country Playhouse to the rest of the community. For example, the Susan Malloy Lecture in the Arts — named for Sheffer’s aunt, and set for September 11 — will feature a panel discussion on “Falsettos.”

Interestingly, in 1994 Staples Players presented that groundbreaking show about gay life as a studio production. The principal did not want it to be shown at the high school — so the Playhouse offered its stage.

The same stage that — 30 years earlier, and more than 50 years ago now — was a home away from home for a generation of Staples Players.

Including a very passionate, and impressionable, Ann Sheffer.

(The Westport Country Playhouse Gala on Saturday, September 9 begins with a 5:45 p.m. cocktail party. A presentation to Sheffer, a performance by Groff and a silent auction follow. All proceeds benefit the WCP’s work on stage, with schools and throughout the community. For more information and tickets, call Aline O’Connor at 203-571-1138, or email aoconnor@westportplayhouse.org.)

The Westport Country Playhouse today.

 

Now On Sale: JD Salinger’s “Catcher In The Rye” Westport Connection

Everyone knows F. Scott Fitzgerald spent the summer of 1920 in Westport.

Much less known is that another author — equally important — came here 30 years later.

And finished one of the most famous books in American literature right here in town.

JD Salinger

The man was J.D. Salinger. The book was Catcher in the Rye.

Now a small piece of that big event is up for sale.

Amazingly alert “06880” reader Seth Schachter spotted a letter and envelope for sale on eBay.

Neatly typed by Salinger in his rented home — postmarked May 30, 1950, “Conn.,” with the return address “Box 365, Westport, CT” — it’s sent to Joyce Miller, a staffer on the New Yorker.

It’s described this way on eBay:

A phenomenal letter in which Salinger alludes repeatedly to the piece he is working on and his deadline. Little did he know at the time he was completing what was to become his landmark title, “Catcher In The Rye”, which he finished in 1950 while living in Westport and was published in mid-1951. From referencing his typewriter ribbon, to his self-inflicted deadlines he elates in a Holden Caulfieldesque persona: “Sharing my brand-new silk typewriter ribbon with you. The Supreme sacrifice. Some men covet Cadillacs, home in the country, etc. With me, its typewriter ribbons” “Another forty hours and I’ll probably be done. I doubt if I have the whole things ready by Saturday, though. There’s no special hurry, actually, but I’m forever imposing mysterious little deadlines on myself” “My mind’s hopelessly single tracked, and I’m quite a little bore when I’m working on a script” “… I can finish typing up the book at my parents’ apartment gracefully enough” JD continues to write a jubilant, playful and suggestive letter to Joyce Miller who was on the staff of “The New Yorker” in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, when J. D. Salinger was publishing stories in the magazine and working on his novel, “The Catcher in the Rye”.

In the spring of 1950, when Salinger was living in Westport, Connecticut, and Miller in White Plains, the two developed a close relationship whose clarity is not completely understood. These were complex years for Salinger, post the trauma of World War II, in the throes of writing his infamous novel “Catcher In The Rye”, while serial dating extremely young women. Salinger’s MO would often find him platonically romancing woman for years but upon the introduction of physical intimacy, would become disinterested and end the relationship. It was during this period, circa 1949, that at least one of this known relationships later came to light, that of Jean Miller, age 14 in 1949 whom he had a 5 year platonic relationship up until the very end which resulted both in intimacy and the end of the relationship. We know through a recent series of letters that this may have been the case with yet another, including that of Joyce Miller.

His letter to Miller dated within a year of the publication of “Catcher In The Rye”: “I finished your book before I went to bed last night. I’ve been training Benny to tear people apart ever since. I keep giving him a secret word, but it doesn’t sink in. The word’s “forsythia”, if you are interested … Don’t forget our 11:30 lunch date at the Biltmore Thursday. I’ll be sitting in the lobby. I’ll flirt with you, over my fan” Whether it was Jean Miller in 1949, Joyce Miller in the 1940s and early 50s or later in Salinger’s life, Maynard in 1972, it is believed that Salinger “was having these women replicate a pre-war innocence for him, and used very young girls as time travel machines back to before various wounds. So there’s something immensely heartbreaking about this rather problematic pursuit.” That pursuit, admitted Miller, “raises havoc in the muse’s life … That short story ‘The Girl With No Waist at All’ really represents [Salinger’s interest in] the moment before a girl becomes a woman.”


The mystery of where J. D. Salinger lived in Westport while he put his finishing touches on “The Catcher in the Rye” in 1949 is now closer to being solved, thanks to the release of the first new biography of the celebrated writer in a decade. We now know that Salinger rented a home on Old Road, off the Post Road. “Westport, CT is the birthplace of The Catcher in the Rye”. And the paper and ink, but more important the sentiment, return to Westport until it finds a new home. An incredibly important letter from 1950 pulling together a confluence of relevant points. On this one single page, written just months before “Catcher In The Rye” was published, Salinger’s TLS pulls together life themes from the birthplace of his famed novel. Those of his pursuit of innocence, complexities of his relationships with the opposite sex, while in the background woven through the body of the letter (which interestingly mirrors the writing style of “Catcher”), Salinger demonstrates the dry humor and sense of distaste and boredom of the norm as his protagonist “Holden Caulfield”.

Salinger writes: “Dinner with the Devries last night, over at some Japanese restaurant near the beach. A very nice dinner, but too much shop talk afterwards. Writers, writers, writers. If only we could do our work and then shut up when we’re finished. We talk so goddam much, and we’re such hopeless megalomaniacs. The wives aren’t much help. In fact, they’re worse than the writers. More dogmatic in their opinions. We should all just stay away from each other.” While reading the TLS, one cannot be sure whether “Catcher’s” protagonist Holden Caulfield, or J.D. Salinger himself, wrote this letter.

Bidding begins at $3,500. To join the action — or just see the listing — click here.