Category Archives: Totally random

David’s Ring

This story, Diane Silfen says, is like one of those amazing things that always happen to random strangers.

But — thanks to a random stranger — it happened to her.

Diane Silfen

Diane’s Westport roots are long and deep. Her mother, Elise Barnes, graduated from Staples High School in 1936. As Diane Haehl, she followed in 1965. So did her 2 siblings: David in 1969, and Janet 3 years after that.

Diane runs the Haehl Insurance Agency — the longtime family business — here. But she’s riding out the COVID-19 crisis at her Key West condo.

(It’s tough even there. With the beaches closed and the tourists gone, it’s like a ghost town.)

On Wednesday morning, Diane’s phone rang. The call was from Illinois. Suspecting a telemarketer, she almost did not answer.

For some reason though, she did.

The caller said, “I’m looking for Diane Silfen.”

“I’m Diane,” she replied.

He asked if Illinois or Colorado meant anything to her. No, she said.

The man said he and his wife once lived in Illinois; then they moved west. With time on their hands while self-isolating, they’d been going through storage boxes.

At the bottom of one was a Staples class ring, from 1969. It bore the initials “DWH.”

David Haehl, in the 1969 Staples High School yearbook.

“That’s my brother!” Diane said.

“I know,” the man replied.

“We know he’s deceased. We want you to have it.”

As Diane listened in astonishment, the man — she was too stunned to ask his name – described what happened after finding the ring.

He and his wife went online. They found Staples High School in Westport; tracked down the list of ’69 grads, and saw the name David William Haehl.

Researching further, they learned that he died 12 years ago. The obituary included his sister’s name. The couple plowed ahead, and found Janet.

How the ring ended up in the bottom of their box is a mystery. They asked Janet if David traveled a lot.

“He went everywhere — but only for scuba diving,” she said. That ruled out Illinois and Colorado.

The man said he’d sanitize the ring, put it in a box, and send it to Florida. Diane will give it — proudly, lovingly, amazingly — to her son Seth.

Seth Van Beever (right), his brother Baird, and their uncle David Haehl.

That is indeed the kind of story that usually happens to other people. But David seems to have led that kind of happy-coincidence life.

Diane noted that when he was in Westport, David never missed a Staples football game.

When he died, the family held a memorial service at Compo Beach. The high school band was there, practicing loudly.

Someone suggested asking them to stop for  a while.

“Of course not!” Diane replied. “It’s like they were playing there for him.”

No April Fool’s Joke In A COVID Crisis

It’s April 1. But given the state of today’s world, there’s no way I can make light of anything.

Of course, we still have to laugh. Click here to relive the past 10 years of April Fool’s jokes, “06880” style.

In 2012, my April Fool’s story involved this couple moving to Westport.

On The One Hand …

… alert “06880” reader Richard Bailey was pleased to find face masks available for purchase on Amazon.

On the other hand, when he looked closely he was surprised to see exactly where they came from.

Meanwhile, as 1st Selectman Jim Marpe says often: “Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands!”

Pic Of The Day #1046

Man with a mannequin (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

As They Say In Bengali: ধন্যবাদ

Richard Wiese has spent his career bridging cultural gaps.

Traveling to all 7 continents, he’s tagged jaguars in the Yucatan jungles, led expeditions to the Northern Territory of Australia, joined the largest medical expedition ever conducted on Mt. Everest, discovered 29 new life forms on Mt. Kilimanjaro, and cross-country skied to the North Pole.

The Weston resident is host and executive producer of “Born to Explore,” the award-winning PBS television series produced on Main Street. He’s also in his 3rd term as president of the Explorers Club, a 116-year-old international organization dedicated to the 4 corners of the earth — plus oceans and outer space.

Richard Wiese in Borneo, with a wild orangutan.

Yet on Tuesday, Wiese created an important cross-cultural connection with just one person: the woman sitting next to him on a plane, stuck on the tarmac in Oslo.

Via Bangladesh.

The woman was brought on the Norwegian Air flight in a wheelchair. When she was seated, a flight attendant spoke to her in English. It was clear to Wiese that no matter how slowly she talked, his seatmate did not understand a word.

The woman fumbled with her phone. Wiese was able to figure out she was from Bangladesh.

He typed, “Can I help you?” — and then used Google Translate to ask the question in Bengali.

Flying the friendly skies: Richard Wiese and his seatmate.

The woman wanted her son to know she was on the flight, as they waited out a delay.

Wiese contacted her son — in Bangladesh.

Weise then learned she was lactose-intolerant. “That was an unusual translation,” he says. He told a flight attendant, who found a special meal for her.

Wiese texted the woman’s son when they landed, and made sure she got off the plane okay.

A screenshot of Richard’s texts.

“JFK is not the friendliest place in the world,” he notes. It was nice she had someone who cared — even if he “spoke” Bengali only with a smartphone.

“It felt good to help someone,” Wiese adds. “It was as easy for me to do that as it was to answer emails. And it’s nice to know you can use your phone for something other than that, and games.”

Super Skeleton

Spotted on South Morningside Drive, near Greens Farms Elementary School:

(Photo/David Squires)

But the question remains: Is this guy rooting for or against the 49ers today?

Pic Of The Day #1008

In front of a Post Road West art gallery: a banana duct-taped to a utility pole. Art? Or a snack “hidden” by a hungry runner? Something else? (Photo/Kirsten Woods)

Pic Of The Day #1002

Only 335 shopping days until Christmas, at CVS. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Faith Hope Consolo Did Not Grow Up Here

Tomorrow’s print edition of the New York Times will carry a long, intriguing story about Faith Hope Consolo.

Faith Hope Consolo (Photo/Beatrice de Gea for the New York Times)

Contrary to years of self-description, the glamorous real estate broker did not follow her real estate executive father into the business. Her mother was not a child psychiatrist. Consolo did not attend Miss Porter’s School for Girls, nor did she earn a degree from Parsons Paris.

And she most definitely did not grow up in Westport.

Consolo fabricated nearly every fact about her life, beginning with her age (she was 73 when she died in late 2018, not 69) and her birth in Cleveland (not Shaker Heights, Ohio).

But these 2 paragraphs attracted the attention of alert “06880” reader Heather Grahame, who definitely did grow up here:

She also claimed that she moved to the tony suburb of Westport, Conn., as a young girl, but she really grew up on a dead-end street in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.

Ms. Consolo’s longtime friends and colleagues never knew the truth, including Joseph Aquino, Ms. Consolo’s business partner for 26 years. “I remember once we were together in Westport, and I was all excited for her to show me the house where she grew up,” Mr. Aquino said. “But she got really vague and seemed sad, so I just dropped it, figuring she didn’t want to talk about it.”

I posted a story about her death a year ago, on “06880.” I asked anyone with a memory of her to share it. There were comments — but only one person thought she remembered her. Another woman mentioned their time together in Brooklyn.

Faith Hope Consolo, as a young girl in Brooklyn. (Photo courtesy of the New York Times)

This weekend’s Times piece is a sad story about an allegedly glamorous figure — one who felt she had to obscure her past, in order to be accepted by Manhattan’s elite.

But just think: Of all the places she could have pretended to have grown up, she chose Westport, Connecticut.

Real-life realtors here must be very impressed.

(Click here to read the full New York Times story.)

Happy New Year!

Let’s hope it’s a good one,

Without any fear…

Dissenting opinions are, of course, welcome.