At Staples, 2015 grad Rachel Treisman wrote for the school paper Inklings. In college, she became editor-in-chief of the Yale Daily News.
Now Rachel writes for NPR.
Yesterday, she wrote an important, comprehensive piece. Headlined “The Vaccine Rollout Will Take Time. Here’s What The U.S. Can Do Now To Save Lives,” it covers governmental, private and personal responses to the pandemic. Click here for the story.
There are 72 films at Sundance 2021. According to IndieWire, 15 are “Must-See,” and can be streamed at home.
Among them: “How it Ends.” Written, directed and produced by 2002 Staples High School graduate Daryl Wein and his “partner in work and love” Zoe Lister-Jones, it is “a star-packed comedic rumination on nothing less than the end of the world.”
“Timely, no?” IndieWire adds.
The film stars Olivia Wilde, Fred Armisen, Helen Hunt, Lamorne Morris and Cailee Spaeny.
In death, Hank Aaron has been treated with respect, admiration, even reverence.
Yet in life, the Black man who broke Babe Ruth’s home run record was hounded by racist attacks, including death threats.
He heard them again nearly 4 decades later, when he defended Lebron James and President Obama.
Carla Koplin Cohn knows exactly what was in those letters thousands of letters.
She lives in Florida now, after more than 25 years in Westport. But in the early 1970s she was a young secretary, working in the basement of Atlanta Stadium. Aaron asked for help with his correspondence. She became his full-time secretary — a first for any baseball player.
The next year, she handled his 900,000 pieces of mail. She sent a form letter for fans. Aaron kept the hate mail in his attic — after Carla reported the threats to the FBI.
One of the thousands of pieces of hate mail received by Hank Aaron — and read by Carla Koplin.
Those letters were nasty. Some included KKK hoods.
Carla got some herself. “They knew I was white, Jewish, and working for a Black man,” she told Slate.
She remained Aaron’s personal assistant for the next 10 years. Cohn sat in the stands and taught Aaron’s second wife Billye all about baseball.
After he retired, they stayed close. Aaron was a guest at her wedding.
He was a frequent guest too at the Cohns’ Punch Bowl Drive home, including her 40th birthday party. Carla ran the annual Bargain Fest; one year, the star helped raise funds by signing baseballs and books.
Hank Aaron and his wife Billye, with Jenn, Carla and Al Cohn, at Carla’s 40th birthday celebration in Westport.
Carla, her husband Al and daughter Jenn visited the Aarons every Christmas, in West Palm Beach.
Carla and Aaron last spoke a few days before his death. He’d just gotten his COVID shot, and hoped to see her soon.
Though he was 86, his death came as a surprise. Cohn’s daughter Jenn Falik — who graduated from Staples High School in 1997, is an on-air trend reporter for “The Today Show” and “Rachael Ray,” writes the “Ultimate Edit” newsletter and moved back to Westport in 2012 — is gaining a new appreciation for the achievements and life of the man she calls “just he nicest, warmest, humblest and low-key person.”
Her children — in 4th grade and kindergarten — are learning too. “They recognize all these celebrities saying great things about him,” she notes. “To them, he’s just Uncle Henry.”
Hank Aaron with Goldie Fralik, 5 years ago at Christmas in Florida. Goldie is now a kindergartner at Greens Farms Elementary School.
Aaron was Uncle Henry to Jenn too.
Which leads to a story the Hall of Famer told at her wedding.
In his toast, Aaron said that when Jenn was a Coleytown Elementary School 1st grader, students had to write biographies on either Helen Keller or Hank Aaron. All the girls chose Keller — except Jenn.
Surprised, the teacher asked why. “He’s my uncle,” she replied.
Worried that Jenn had a problem, the teacher and guidance counselor called her parents for a conference. They explained that yes, Jenn really did call Hank Aaron “Uncle Henry.”
Because to her, he was.
(Click here for a great Slate story: “The Woman Who Read Hank Aaron’s Hate Mail.” Click here for an in-depth New York Times story on him.)
Hank Aaron, at Jenn Cohn and Brian Falik’s wedding in 2005. The Presidential Medal of Freedom winner spoke right before Brian — “a daunting lead-in for the groom,” Jenn notes.
But a pair of Staples High School graduates are collaborating on an intriguing work, available from the comfort of your home. And it was filmed right in Westport.
Class of 2016 graduate Adam Riegler is directing a virtual play. “Albert Names Edward” by Louis Nowra is a taped theatrical production about 2 men who meet unexpectedly. One has no memory; the other is at the peak of his philosophical musings. Albert teaches Edward about the world he has forgotten, and introduces him to new ways of thinking that Edward does not always accept.
The company of recent graduates of Dartmouth College includes Max Samuels (Staples Class of 2011). They rehearsed on Zoom before getting tested for COVID. They took all precautions as they to met to film the show here.
The budget was low. Riegler built a camera dolly out of medical equipment from his father’s office. But the quality is high.
Riegler is finishing the footage now, with an original score.
“Albert Names Edward” will be available on demand on January 29 and 30, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are free, but should be reserved ahead of time (click here).
Last month, the Hackett family collected new and gently used sports equipment for a group called Leveling the Playing Field.
This was not just a bin-ful. Westporters donated enough cleats, hockey and lacrosse sticks, bats, skates, footballs and softball gloves to fill a truck. It’s all been delivered to youngsters who want to play, but could not afford to.
The Hacketts thank The Granola Bar, WestportMoms (and “06880”) for getting the word out — and to everyone who contributed.
hloe Hackett (organizer) and Max Levitt (founder of Leveling the Playjng Field), Chloe Hackett and Marley, the Hacketts’ rescue dog.
Patricia Wettach — a 50-year resident of Westport — died peacefully at home on Wednesday. She was 97 years old.
The Pennsylvania native and World War II Navy WAVES veteran met her future husband, Bob, in the service. She graduated from Carnegie Mellon University, and they married in 1951.
In 1971 GE transferred Bob to New York from Cincinnati. Patricia lived in that house ever since.
Gracious and warm, she built strong, loving friendships everywhere. She welcomed everyone to her home, and fed them well. She enjoyed bridge, book and gourmet clubs, and was a longtime member of the Westport Woman’s Club, St. Luke New Horizon Society, Delta Gamma of Fairfield County Alumnae, and Food and Friends. Patricia also volunteered with Fairfield County Hospice, and was a liturgical minister at St. Luke Church.
She traveled internationally with friends and family, but her favorite destination was the Wettach cottage in Vermilion, Ohio, overlooking Lake Erie. She spent many hours on the front porch reading, talking and enjoying the view.
Patricia is survived by her children Mary Ann Roehm (Edward), Jane (Paul Baldasare Jr.) and Robert III (Gayle); 6 grandchildren; 2 great-grandchildren; sister Mary Werbaneth; stepbrother Colman Studeny, and 6 nephews.
She was predeceased 27 years ago by her husband Bob, whom she missed intensely.
As she approached her 90s Patricia was joined by Inga Durante, an aide whose tender care allowed her to stay at home until she died. Patricia’s family is deeply indebted to Inga for her service.
Tuesday night’s COVID remembrance at the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool will be remembered for its somber, stunning 400 lights. Each represents 1,000 Americans killed by the coronavirus.
Staples High School 2009 graduate Andrew Lott — a former Staples Players lighting director — played a major role in the event. He also helped light last night’s Biden/Harris inauguration show, featuring musical performances, fireworks, and tributes to Americans affected by the pandemic.
Lott — a University of Michigan alumnus — has worked with the Spoleto and Williamstown Theatre Festivals, Public Theatre, Shakespeare in the Park and Lincoln Center.
He spent 2 years as lighting director for “CNN Tonight.” He now works nationally on a wide variety of events.
Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and their spouses admire 400 lights, at the Lincoln Center reflecting pool.
Winter sports practices have begun at Staples High School.
The usual date is around Thanksgiving. The pandemic delayed the start nearly 2 months; the first competition will now be in early February.
For the boys basketball team (shown below), along with girls basketball; boys and girls indoor track, ice hockey and skiing, and boys swimming and diving, it was one small step toward normalcy — though masks are required at all times, and spectators are not allowed.
Wrestling and competitive cheer are still prohibited.
I got a nice surprise this week with my takeout (fantastic lamb dan dan) from Kawa Ni.
The Japanese/pan-Asian restaurant has partnered with 2 others also owned by Bill Taibe — Don Memo and The Whelk — in a game. Every time you order from one, you get a letter (mine was “E”). When you have enough to spell out the name of one of those restaurants, you can post it to social media (with a tag) and win prizes (a family meal for 4, takeout up to $75, or a cocktail to go).
There are instant prizes too: guac and chips, fried oyster deviled eggs and crab rangoon.
It’s great food fun. And a lot better than a toy with a Happy Meal.
Noted chef Matthew Redington died unexpectedly earlier this month in New York. He was 40 years old.
The Westport native learned his craft at Acqua restaurant on Main Street under Christian Bertrand, formerly of Lutèce. Matt graduated from New England Culinary Institute where at age 19 he was the youngest person offered a spot in the Advanced Placement Program.
Matt and went on to top chef positions at Jean-George Vongerichten’s Spice Market in New York, Clio in Boston and Tengda in Greenwich (a co-creation of his). At Paul Newman’s The Dressing Room next to the Westport Country Playhouse, he helped Michel Nischan create the groundbreaking farm-to-table menu.
Most recently Matt ran a consultancy, creating culinary themes, concepts and menus for new and re-launched restaurants in New York and Connecticut.
Matt also enjoyed yoga, snowboarding, and innovative art and graphics.
He is survived by his father Thomas of Colebrook; sister Jessica Redington-Jones of Taylors, South Carolina; 3 nieces, 7 aunts, 6 uncles and numerous cousins.
A memorial celebration of Matt’s life will be held at a later date. Donations may be made to the New England Culinary Institute Scholarship Fund, 7 School Street, Montpelier, VT 05602. To leave online condolences, click here.
Sure, races are held outdoors. But rowers are packed tightly together. They breathe heavily. The cox shouts.
The coronavirus did impact competitors. All 2020 regattas were canceled. Junior rowers are still not allowed to practice until at least January 19.
But fewer than 20% of Saugatuck Rowing Club members actually row. Most adults join for the state-of-the-art fitness center (and social activities).
Saugatuck Rowing Club (Drone photo/Ward French)
So when SRC opened up again in June, one of the most important issues was air quality and circulation in the weight and cardio room.
Which led the club to something most rowers and coaches never think about: ionization.
After diligent research, SRC installed “needlepoint bipolar ionization” —a technologyused in hospitals, airline terminals and office headquarters around the country that deactivates airborne bacteria and viruses by up to 99%, while reducing allergens and mold — in their 9 HVAC systems.
They overhauled their infrastructure, making the entire building — including the restaurant — as safe as possible.
Ionization work at the Saugatuck Rowing Club fitness center.
The $12,000 job was completed in November.
“You can’t put a price on safety,” says director of marketing, membership and events Diana Kuen. “It was important to do more than just open windows and hope for the best.”
That’s not all. Owner Howard Winklevoss took advantage of the downtime to replace the entire back wall with floor-to-ceiling glass doors, creating a sweeping view of the river.
New full-length windows in the Regatta Room.
He’s adding a full-service café, and replacing the carpet with (cleaner) hardwood floors.
A big party is planned — as soon as large crowds can gather again.
Meanwhile, a new app allows the club to monitor usage (only 12 people are allowed on the gym floor at a time), and trace contacts. (As much fitness training as possible is still done outdoors.)
Outdoor workouts, at the Saugatuck Rowing Club.
A special website allows members to take classes from home (Zoom or livestream), or in person. There are over 100 group fitness videos in the library.
Because only 4 junior rowers are allowed on site at a time, the club lent 70 indoor rowing machines to those who did not already have them. They’re continuing winter training via Zoom, 5 times a week for 2 1/2 hours a day
Meanwhile, Kuen continues to coach the breast cancer survivors (“Survive-OARS“) 3 days a week.
The pandemic has not slowed them — or any other member — down.
And when they work out inside, they are grateful to do so surrounded by newly ionized air.
(To learn more about the ionization technology, email SRC general manager Scott Armstrong: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The COVID vaccine is now available in Connecticut for people 75 or older. They (or someone helping them) can sign up online (click here). After registration, they’ll get an email detailing next steps.
There may be an initial delay in scheduling, but access should grow quickly soon.
More than 100 healthcare providers statewide will offer the vaccine. More locations and a map of them will be available in coming weeks.
The scheduling link also contains a list of frequently asked questions about the vaccine.
People without internet access, or who need help, can call 877-918-2224 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Brendan Murphy’s works are drawing raves at his one-man show at the POP’TArt gallery downtown.
In return, the fast-rising contemporary artist asked curator Jennifer Haviland how he could support Westport. She chose an organization she loves: Wakeman Town Farm.
Murphy chose one of his 8-layer silver-based chrome heart sculptures, and offered it for auction. Measuring 24 x 24 x 8 inches, it’s valued at $18,000.
The heart is on display with Murphy’s show, “96% Stardust” at POP’Tart (1 Main Street).
Auction co-chair Nicole Gerber says, “Wakeman Town Farm has a rich history in Westport, and resides at the heart of our community. The Farm is committed to inspiring local residents through sustainable practices, education opportunities, and community service. In this crucial time in our history, The Farm is actively supporting local organizations focused on alleviating food insecurity in our area. We are honored to support a nonprofit that allows the people it serves to serve others as well.”
Bidding starts at $5,000, by email: BrendanHeartWakeman@gmail.com. For more information on the auction, click here. For more information about Brendan Murphy, click here.
The Westport Parks and Recreation Department invites you to participate in a socially distanced “scavenger hunt”, hosted by the Goosechase App!
Who doesn’t love a scavenger hunt?
Westport’s Parks & Recreation Department is organizing one, for families or teams.
Registrants first download the GooseChase app on their phones, search for the “Westport Winter Goose Chase,” then click here to receive a game password.
Winners get a gift basket of items from Westport businesses. For more information, click here.
One River — the art and design school — is sponsoring a downtown show. The opening next Sunday (January 24, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.).
David Waldman and BTS Realty donated their storefronts: 33 Elm Street, Brooks Corner and Sconset Square. Two hundred works — from children to adults — will be on view through February 7.
Also included: One River’s high school portfolio development class, with traditional and digital works.
It’s official: Most high school winter sports can begin tryouts and practices this Tuesday (January 19). Basketball, ice hockey, swimming, gymnastics and indoor track got the go-ahead yesterday from the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference.
Games may begin February 8, except for track which cannot compete until March. The number of games is limited; there will be no state tournaments, though a “post-season experience” can be held (similar to fall sports).
In addition, athletes will be required to wear masks during competitions. Coaches and players will also have to wear masks and be socially distanced on the sidelines. Officials are required to wear masks at all times.
There will be no wrestling or competitive cheer, however. The state Department of Public Health categorized those as “high-risk activities.”
Football — a fall sport — had hoped to play a shortened late winter/early spring season. However, the CIAC canceled that option yesterday.
And finally … happy 87th birthday to the brilliant mezzo-soprano, Marilyn Horne!
Politicians debate the future of the president — and our democracy. More than 200,000 people will be diagnosed with COVID-19 today. Another 4,000 will die.
But in Westport, we woke up to this scene today.
There is beauty all around us. We are so fortunate to not look far to find it.
The property between Clapboard Hill Road and Morningside Drive South is one of the last big pieces of private open space left in Westport.
A new house is under construction there. This week, excavation began in the middle of the field.
No building or subdivision plans have been filed, so this might be work to improve the water table, drain the wetlands or otherwise tend to the fill there.
“06880” will follow up when we find out for sure.
Before he became CBS News chief homeland security and justice correspondent, a 3-time Emmy Award winner and the author of a book on police and the Black community, Jeff Pegues was an All-FCIAC running back on the Staples High School football team.
So he’s got some skin in the game when he interviews James Brown, host of CBS’ “The NFL Today” and Showtime’s “Inside the NFL,” on January 27 (7 p.m.).
The free virtual program — sponsored by the Westport Library — will preview the Super Bowl, with intriguing insights and analysis. Click here to register.
James Brown and Jeff Pegues.
And finally … on this date in 1968, Johnny Cash performed his now-famous concert at Folsom Prisom.
Staples High School’s winter sports season moved a step closer to a (long-delayed) reality yesterday.
The state Department of Public Health told the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference — the organizing body for high school sports — that low- and moderate-risk sports (basketball, ice And fnahockey, indoor track, swimming and gymnastics) can begin practicing a week from today (January 19).
The CIAC will meet Thursday to approve the plan. The first games could be played February 1, though that date may be pushed back.
Safety protocols include masks at all times, including competition, social distancing on the sidelines, and perhaps no spectators other than parents. There can be no multi-team indoor track meets.
High-risk sports (wrestling and cheer) will be allowed only small-group practices, with no competitions.
Still, for winter athletes and coaches — whose seasons were canceled abruptly last March, when COVID first struck — the fact that abbreviated seasons may begin soon was welcome news.
Janine Scotti writes:
I was almost home yesterday morning, my heart still heavy from the events of the last week, when I saw what appeared to be a bag’s worth of garbage strewn along Riverside Avenue.
I knew that if I had called Public Works, they could not arrive before some of the trash ended up in the Saugatuck River. With no other option, and inspired by the images of Congressman Andy Kim on his hands and knees cleaning the floor of the Capitol, I hurried home to grab gloves and a trash bag.
When I returned, a passerby walking a beautiful golden retriever said the garbage had probably fallen from a vehicle on its way to the dump.
As I loaded the mess into the bag I had brought, I realized it had been collected from the nearby church. Amid the papers were handfuls of small cut-out hearts. As a collector of hearts of all shapes and sizes, I smile as I continued my work.
As I was getting ready to head home, I found one last item: a 3 x 3 laminated card. On the front was an image of Pope John XXIII. On the back, was this prayer:
I am certain it was no accident that the litter caught my attention yesterday, as a way for me to find this message and share it.
After this tragic week in our democracy, this unexpected find gave me the reassurance I was looking for. I hope that no matter what your political party or faith, it also brings you comfort and hope, today and in the future.
Bullying. Lack of non-car transportation. Lack of affordable activities. Vaping, drinking and drugs. Apathy. Gender issues.
Those are some of the things Westport youngsters deal with.
How important are they to kids, and adults? The Westport Youth Commission wants to know.
They’ve developed a needs survey, broken down into elementary, middle, high school and post-high school/college ages. Anyone can take it; you can identify yourself as a student, parent with kids in schools, adult without students in schools, or a professional working with Westport youth.
The goal is to understand what the community wants, to better cater to those needs. Click here for the survey.
A multiracial, intergenerational cat of more than 60 performers — including Westporters — celebrates Martin Luther King Day every year, at Bridgeport’s Klein Auditorium.
COVID changed those plans. This year’s event next Monday (January 18, 2 p.m.) is virtual
Connect-Us — the non-profit suburban and urban partnership that provides after-school opportunities for Bridgeport youth, which sponsors the celebration, notes:
“Dr. King had a dream that inspired the world to create more harmonious, developmental, and humane communities, cities, and countries.” Each year, the Connect-Us community creates performances and writes letters to Dr. King letting him know what their dreams are — or why they don’t have dreams.
This year’s show is called “Bridgeport Has a Dream: Building Bridges Across Fairfield County.” It will be streamed for free on Facebook and the Connect-Us website. It will also be available on those platforms after the event.
It was a gorgeous sunrise on Soundview Drive this morning.
Let’s hope it foretells a better week ahead than the last one. (As for that “red sky in morning” stuff … there’s no rain or snow in the forecast.)
The family of Timari Rivera — the Staples High School senior who died last week — has released his obituary:
Timari Raquan Rivera, 17, was greeted in heaven on Monday, January 4, 2021 from his earthly home.
He was born August 5, 2003 to Timothy Rivera and Anglie Edmounds in Bridgeport. He attended local schools and began his love of the game at age 6, when his pediatrician suggested that if his mom didn’t put a basketball into Timari’s hands, he would.
His passion for basketball grew from PAL league, leading him to play in several leagues – including Weston Wilton Travel Team, NE Playaz, and CT Elite AAU, but his varsity position with the Staples High School Wreckers remained his primary focus.
Timari was a math whiz, fluent in basketball statistics, and loved pottery. He enjoyed spending time with family, friends, playing 2K, and every teen’s passion, eating. He was set to graduate from Staples this year.
In addition to his parents, left to cherish the memory of this “gentle giant,” are stepfather Devin Robinson, big little brothers Taurean and Tyron Rivera, 9 additional siblings, nephews Amir and Tristian Rivera, bonus niece Marlo Perkins, and a host of family and friends.
A private Service of Celebration will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, January 12, at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, 729 Union Avenue, Bridgeport. Friends may greet the family from 9 to 10 a.m. at the church. The family will proceed to a private interment immediately following service.
The family wishes to thank those who have expressed their love and condolence in various ways. It is truly appreciated. To plant memorial trees in memory, click here.
Seen yesterday at Sherwood Island:
Photographer Mary Sikorski reports that the riders’ jackets said “Yale Polo.”
So that’s why they look like 3 Wise Men.
Those kids playing on Saugatuck Shores are so adorable, you could just eat them!
And finally … on this day in 1972, East Pakistan officially renamed itself Bangladesh.
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