“I’m one of the parents who continues to walk their kids to school (Coleytown Elementary) every day on the sidewalk along the Easton Road ‘speedway,’ instead of adding to idling cars waiting for drop-off. Over the years, more and more families have decided not to walk. due to these issues.
“Our hope is to continue to do this. But it has become increasingly more dangerous.
“Easton Road is a poorly marked 25 mph zone, with cars during morning rush hour usually doubling that. To make matters worse, distracted drivers (often texting) have created a number of recent close calls for families (including us), and crossing guards who brave this dangerous stretch of sidewalk.
“Local parents and CES/CMS want more protection. But it’s a state road, and requests have gone unanswered for years.
“Things are getting worse. See this photo from the intersection of Easton Road and North Avenue, taken Friday morning:
That’s not all. Ryan sent along another photo, from August. It shows the aftermath of a car hitting a tree. Fortunately, he says, there were no pedestrians nearby.
I have been disabled for 8 years. Before that, I did not have much knowledge or awareness about the different types of disabilities.
For the first time since I became disabled, these last months I’ve had 2 people in Westport come up to me at different times when I’m parking in a disabled spot, with my disabled parking permit hanging, to say “Hey, you’re not disabled!”
I politely answered, “Yes, I am. And you can see my disabled parking permit hanging in the car.” One man insisted, “No, you’re not.” Then he laughed, thinking he was being sort of funny.
The second person was a woman. She said, “But you look so normal, young, healthy and fit. You can’t be disabled!”
After explaining to them that I don’t need to share my medical records, I decided to explain why I am disabled. Once they heard the reason, they understood and apologized. They felt terrible after hearing the story.
I want to take this opportunity to remind people that not all disabilities come with a wheelchair. There are many different types.
None of us chose to be disabled. It’s a sensitive topic for us. Being disabled is probably the biggest trauma in my life. Having strangers laugh or diminish this is painful. Please be kind to us. We have been through enough.
Saying things like “you don’t look disabled” or “you look normal” doesn’t make us feel better. It actually makes us feel worse. Comments like those come from a good place — but they don’t work.
If you don’t know the person, don’t say anything. If you do know the person, just listen to them. There’s no need to reply.
There’s no need to tell us we “look normal” when we know we are not. It’s not a compliment.
It’s not easy to post this. But by sharing my story, I might help you all understand a little about how we feel.
Westport Chinese Takeout — the bare bones, simply named but popular restaurant on Saugatuck Avenue at Franklin Street, closed recently.
The location is historic. It was the original site of the Arrow Restaurant. The Nistico family eventually moved their famed Italian eatery to larger digs on Charles Street.
When the Arrow’s run ended there, it became Jasmine — a Chinese restaurant. When that closed, the owners opened the much smaller Westport Chinese Takeout — in the Arrow’s first spot.
Jasmine then became Blu Parrot, and later Mystic Market. Now it too is gone.
And the original Chinese Takeout owners sold to others too.
For now, a phone message says: “We’re sorry. Westport Chinese Takeout is no longer in business. In the meantime, we’re getting ready to bring you the best of Peruvian food at this location. We’ll see you soon!” 9(Hat tip:
Westport Chinese Takeout is now closed.
Halloween alert: Tomorrow (Saturday, October 29, 2 to 4 p.m.) — not Monday — the United Methodist Church of Westport and Weston hosts their annual (and very popular) “Trunk or Treat,”
The parking lot will be filled with car trunks from church and community members, Staples PRIDE, and more, decorated for (non-scary) Halloween. Kids (up to age 12) can pick up candy and other goodies.
It’s free for the community — but there’s a chance to give back too. The church is collecting canned goods for the Person to Person food pantry. A donation of 5 cans of food per child attending is requested.
All (kids up to age 12) are indeed welcome at the United Methodist Church’s “Trunk or Treat” tomorrow. (Photo/Dan Woog)
The free Thinkers, Educators, Actors — “TEA” — event returns to the Westport Library on Sunday, November 6. Among the notables: an Emmy-winning composer, Oscar-nominated filmmaker, former Westport Teacher of the Year, and many more.
They’ll share the Trefz Forum stage, to explore provocative, topical subjects in the arts. Particularly apt for an event impacted for 2 years by COVID, they’ll consider the effects of recent history on creativity in film, music and visual art.
Were home-bound artists more or less creative? What new ways were discovered to express one’s creativity? Does the public now consume the arts differently from the way it did before?
Westport textile and fashion designer Shobana Mani converses with Oscar-nominated New York City filmmaker Kevin Wilson Jr.
Dr. Richard Epstein (Westport musician, dentist and WPKN radio host) speaks with Emmy Award-winning composer, music supervisor and pianist Michael Whalen
Westport 2013 Teacher of the year Cecily Anderson discusses the state of the arts with Westport artist Tom Berntsen and Norwalk street-muralist 5ive Fingaz.
TEA Talks is sponsored by the Westport Arts Advisory Committee. An audience Q-and-A and refreshments follow the presentation. For more information, click here.
Speaking of honors: The Westport Garden Club earned several honors at this week’s Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut’s 93rd annual awards luncheon.
The club received the Certificate of Achievement – Arboreal for planting a swamp white oak at Grace Salmon Park for “Oaktober 2021.”
They also won a Certificate of Achievement – Historic, Memorial and Public Gardens for their 2022 renovation of the Nevada Hitchcock Garden at the Cross Highway/Weston Road intersection. The garden — established in 1941 — was reworked to focus on native and pollinator plantings.
Two members received individual awards. Andi Turner was given a Certificate of Individual Achievement for her work as horticultural chair. At each meeting, she shares well researched and informative best practices .
The Tribute Award in Landscape Design went to Ellen Greenberg, a Westport Garden Club past president, for her leadership in the club and community, involving a diverse array of partners including the Waltersville School Garden Project with Pivot Ministries, Wakeman Town Farm Pollinator Gardens, a Kaboom playground project in Bridgeport, and Aspetuck Land Trust’s Green Corridor Initiative and Haskins Preserve Project.
Westport Garden Club members at the Nevada Hitchcock Garden.
Many Westporters know Pippa Bell Ader for her environmental activism.
She’s also a talented potter. Next Thursday (November 3, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), she’ll sell her work at the Westport Farmers’ Market (Imperial Avenue parking lot).
All money raised at the “Urban Farming and Food Justice” fundraiser go to Green Village Initiative. The non-profit grows food, knowledge, leadership and community, through urban gardening and farming, to create a more just food system in Bridgeport.
Can’t make it to the Farmers’ Market, but interested in helping Pippa and GVI? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
MoCA Westport’s next 2 “Cocktails and Conversation” events are set.
On November 3 (6 p.m.), Diana Mashia — founder and CEO of Invest In Her Art — discusses “the power of story, and the role that narratives play in shaping identity, fandom, advocacy and positive social impact.” She’ll lead a conversation around “how to better utilize stories and the arts to build awareness and advance women and non-binary people.” Click here to register.
On November 10 (6 p.m.), exhibition co-curators Tom Berntsen, Liz Leggett and Ruth Mannes describes the design and installation of MoCA’s current exhibition, “From the Pen to the Knife,” and the fascinating story of artist Marian Christy. Click here to register.
Both events are free; advance registration is requested. Access to the exhibit beforehand is free; cocktails and drinks are available for purchase.
Anne Bernier explains: “Anyone has seen ‘Stranger Things 4’ episode 3 (or has heard the Kate Bush song ‘Running Up that Hill’) will understand the floating Halloween decoration my 8th grader Luke created. Hopefully it won’t scare off any potential trick-or-treaters.”
With fall foliage at its peak, Aspetuck Land Trust recommends several great hikes. Two are in Westport.
Caryl & Edna Haskins Preserve is tucked away off Compo Road South. Gentle flat trails circle both ponds. They’re great spots to observe wildlife, and beautiful foliage colors reflecting off the water. A wooded trail near the brook is moderately steep. Click here for the back story on Haskins Preserve.
The red trail through the Newman Poses Preserve (off Bayberry Lane) winds through a wetland on a boardwalk to a meadow marked by large bayberry bushes. Through the meadow towards the lowlands lies the Aspetuck River. A favorite spot for quiet contemplation is the stone bench on the riverbank where neighbor Paul Newman enjoyed floating. The trail loops back by the meadow, into the uplands and back to its starting point.
Trout Brook Valley Conservation Area in Weston is ALT’s biggest preserve: 1,009 acres, with 20 miles of trails. For the best views, start at the orchard. Hike to the highest point; then look south all the way to the Sound and Long Island.
Click here for full details on Aspetuck Land Trust’s preserves.
Cris Jacobs and his band returned to Westport last night for a long-awaited return of the “Supper & Soul” series.
The event — sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce — included a concert at the Westport Library. It was sandwiched in between a 3-course dinner at participating restaurants, and post-concert drinks.
A large crowd enjoyed the music, the food and beverages — and the return to normal entertainment, following the long COVID siege.
“Supper & Soul” at the Westport Library. (Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)
The Westport Country Playhouse production of “From the Mississippi Delta” explores the African American experience in the South, during the Great Migration and civil rights movement.
An insert in the program describes Westport’s role in the movement. An accompanying exhibit on the Great Migration of Blacks out of the South is on view at the Playhouse’s Lucille Lortel White Barn, weekdays from noon to 6 p.m. and on performance dates until intermission.
But the Playhouse also acknowledges current issues. Another insert urges theater-goers to support the Mississippi Rising Coalitions, which addresses the water crisis in Jackson. Click here for more information on that project.
Clck here for more information on “From the Mississippi Delta.” The show runs through October 30.
The cast of “Mississippi Delta” acknowledges applause, From left: Tameishia Peterson, Claudia Logan, Erin Margaret Pettigrew. (Photo/Dave Matlow)
If the weather is clear Tuesday, November 8, the Westport Astronomical Society will have telescopes available for the public to view the lunar eclipse. The observatory is at 182 Bayberry Lane, behind the Aspetuck Health District.
It’s from 4 to 6 a.m. — before the polls open. They’ll post on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Meetup if bad weather scraps their plan.
This is the first Election Day total lunar eclipse in US history. The next one won’t happen again until November 8, 2394. Chances are good you won’t be around for that one.
Unlike a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse is perfectly safe to view == and lasts hours. The moon glides into earth’s shadow, and can be viewed over a large part of the planet.
It will turn a notable reddish color for 84 minutes, as the light from the sun passes through the earth’s atmosphere to reach the moon’s surface. This “blood moon” is the final total lunar eclipse visible from North America until 2025.
This partial lunar eclipse was photographed by Westport Astronomical Society member Carl Lancaster this past May.
And finally … on this day in 1998, a court supported the superintendent at Fort Zumwalt High School in St. Louis, and his decision that the marching band could not play “White Rabbit” in their act, because of its drug references.
(After your Aspetuck Land Trust preserve hike, thank “06880” for the suggestion. Contributions of any amount are welcome! Please click here to help.)
“06880” has performed many civic functions over the years.
We’ve told you where to get COVID vaccines (remember those?).
We’ve given you details on dumping your yard waste after a storm. We’ve provided primers on septic systems.
Today, we’re a Driver Ed teacher.
Alert “06880 reader — and terrified-to-be-on-the-road-these-days Westporter — Lynn Flint sends along these reminders of who has the right-of-way at 4-way stop signs.
Three examples: Hillspoint and Greens Farms Roads; Cross Highway and Bayberry Lane; Cross Highway and North Avenue (tricky, because one of the stops is not visible to all other drivers).
The North Avenue/Cross Highway intersection may be the most dangerous one in Westport without a light. Who goes first?
Here are the rules:
1. The first vehicle to arrive has the right of way. Pretty easy: You get there (clearly) first, you go first.
2. Always yield to the right. When 2 vehicles arrive side by side, the one furthest to the right has the right of way. (That’s “right” — an easy way to remember it.) If there are 3 vehicles, the one furthest left goes last (“left = last”).
3. Straight traffic has the right of way over turning traffic. This applies when 2 cars face each other. If they’re both heading straight, or turning in the same direction (say, both left or both right), both can go at the same time. If one is turning, but the other is not, the turning driver yields to the straight-ahead driver. NOTE: This assumes that a driver who is turning uses the turn signal. That’s the little arm on the steering column. It is not difficult to push up or down, and it is not there for decoration.
4. Right turns take the right of way over left turns. This is Advanced Placement Driver Ed. Imagine 2 cars facing each other. One is turning right; the other is turning left. If they both go at the same time, they’ll crash. So the car turning right — the one closest to the turn — goes first.
There is no written test for this — just a practical exam.
There are 2 ancient-looking doors on the west side of Saugatuck Avenue, just north of the railway overpass. They’re unmarked, and wouldn’t make any sense to have there with the traffic whizzing by. One is on the 2nd floor, so they probably pre-date the road there. Any idea what they were for? (Marc Frankel)
No. But I’m sure some longtime Saugatuck residents do. And — to be honest — I’ve never noticed them. The next time I’m stuck in traffic there, I’ll look.
The photo above brings up my own question: Why do so many drivers not believe the 10′ 11″ warning sign on the Saugatuck Avenue bridge?
If I drove a truck for a living — or rented a U-Haul, and was responsible for damages — I like to think I’d be a bit more aware than all of those ding-dongs who suddenly come to a screeching, roof-less halt.
And a related query: Why are there so many fewer accidents on the similarly low railroad bridge on South Compo? Does it have something to do with coming off I-95 onto Saugatuck Avenue, and still being in highway mode? Are there not enough warning signs? We may not be able to solve many world problems, but this one seems like it could be fixed.
Or at least cut down to, say, only one accident a month.
My Alvord children and I have just learned there is an Alvord Beach here. Where is it? For which ancestor is it named? And can we claim ownership? We’ve always wanted a private beach. (Lynn Flaster [Alvord] Paul
I know the answer!
Well, part of it, anyway.
Alvord Beach is the official name of the sandy area at Sherwood Island State Park.
I have no idea which Alvord it’s named for, unfortunately. But for the very interesting back story of Connecticut’s first state park, click here.
I’d like to know about the Lees family — early Westport industrialists.
They have a big cemetery plot at Willowbrook, with gravestones goin back centuries, plus an extension with more recent family members buried across the way.
The grandmother’s beautiful Italianate Victorian house set back on Main Street was in disrepair for many years, but looks well kept up now. Amazing to think that property goes all the way back. (Jeanne Reed)
“06880” has written several times about the Lees family, with great input from Mary Palmieri Gai Jack Whittle. Here are some excerpts:
Lees Pond, Lees Dam and Lees Lane, all in the Richmondville area, are part of the Lees family.
Lees Dam (Photo/Scott Smith)
Lees Manufacturing Company – they ran the cotton twine mill on Richmondville Avenur – was founded in 1814 by John Lees, who was born in 1787 in England, and perhaps a brother Thomas Lees was also a founder. John Lees was married to Martha (b. 1793). They are shown living in Westport in the 1850 US census, with their two youngest sons, George and Henry.
Edward M. Lees (Courtesy of Dale Call)
Edward M. Lees (born c. 1832) appeared in both the 1860 and 1870 US censuses with his wife Caroline. In the 1860 census Edward’s occupation was “blacksmith,” while in the 1870 census it was “law student.” Edward was appointed postmaster for Westport on April 7, 1867. He died in 1909, and is buried alongside his wife in Willowbrook cemetery.
Edward Lees also fought in the Civil War. He joined Fairfield’s 17th regiment too, ending the war as a 2nd lieutenant in Company K. He was wounded at Gettysburg, and captured at the Battle of Chancellorsville.
As far as precise Main Street Westport addresses of the Lees are concerned, Robert Lees (b. 1855) and his wife Lucy lived “on Main street near Myrtle Ave” in Westport in the 1919 Westport City Directory. Robert’s occupation was listed as “cotton twine manufacturing.”
Robert died around 1919 but Lucy continued to live in Westport, with her address listed as “171 Main St.” beginning with the 1925 Westport City Directory and continuing through the 1933 directory (when Lucy was 83 or so; she may have died soon thereafter). (NOTE: Street numbers may have been renumbered at some point.)
Meanwhile, beginning with the 1910 census John A. Lees (b. 1875) and his wife Margaret Sniffen Lees lived next door at 169 Main Street, along with their son John A. Lees Jr. (b. 1905). According to the 1917 City directory John A Lees Sr. was the president of Lees Manufacturing, and Charles Sniffen (his wife’s father? brother?) was shown as the manager. Sniffen Lane was developed much later, near Richmondville Avenue.
The Mill on Richmondville Avenue is now being converted into luxury housing.
John A. Lees Sr. and Margaret moved into Lucy Lees’ house after she died, because they are shown living at 171 Main St. in the 1940 census. At that point John A. Lees Jr. was married (Jane) and from 1931 – 1939 living at 193 Main Street.
John A. Lees Jr. (who also ran the company) and Jane eventually moved to Turkey Hill Road South in the 1950s. John A. Lees Jr. died on April 24, 1966.
The old Lees House at 257 Main State was (finally) restored by the owner. The last Lees in Westport — a woman who never married — lived there until she was in her 90s.
When Jen Tooker ran for 1st Selectman last fall, one main issues was traffic.
This spring, she organized 9 meetings — one for each Representative Town Meeting — with high-level Police Department officials. Residents shared their biggest traffic concerns.
Tooker and Police leader separated the issues into 3 buckets: relatively simple fixes; those needing longer-term attention, and “sorry, unfortunately impossible.”
Starting soon, the Westport Police will have a tool for addressing one complaint they heard at every meeting: aggressive and distracted drivers.
A new Traffic Safety Unit will target “motor vehicle enforcement on area roadways.” Two officers — Scott Thompson and Dominique Carr — will devote all their time to traffic issues.
“Traffic safety has always been one of our top priorities,” says Police Chief Foti Koskinas.
“But our officers are very busy. They spend a lot of their time answering calls. We don’t want to assign someone to an hour at a particular location, then all of a sudden they have to respond to a call.
“So we’re re-allocating our resources. The Traffic Safety Unit officers will work strictly on this.”
AFter the 9 RTM meetings, Koskinas’ department identified 55 Westport sites where targeted enforcement could help. Some might be where drivers routinely plow through lights or stop signs; others might attract particularly aggressive or fast (even for Westport) drivers.
Rush hour — with commuter and school traffic — will be one of the highest priorities.
The traffic agent at Bedford Middle School may get some help from the new Traffic Safety Unit. (Photo/Adam Vengrow)
Officers Thompson and Carr will work regular shifts: 5 days on, 2 off. But those shifts will be staggered, so the Traffic Unit will operate 7 days a week. The officers will sometimes work alone, sometimes with other patrol cars.
“We realize traffic can be frustrating,” Koskinas says. “And coming out of COVID, we know that driving habits have changed.
“We think this Traffic Safety Unit will address what we’ve heard. And we continue to encourage feedback from residents about traffic, and how we address it.”
What do Connecticut’s Compo Beach, Massachusetts’ Race Point, Rhode Island’s East Matunuck, New York’s Cooper Beach, North Carolina’s Nags Head and South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach have in common?
According to Travel + Leisure, they’re the best beaches in those states. We share that honor with Old Saybrook’s Harvey’s Beach.
The writeup says:
Westport has several beaches ideal for exploration, but one that stands out is Compo. The 29-acre park includes a large sandy beach that looks out onto the Long Island Sound, as well as a wheelchair-friendly boardwalk and pavilion areas, where visitors will also find the concession stand. For those looking to break a sweat and have a little fun, the beach also has two sand volleyball courts.
Fans of other state beaches — from Ocean Point in New London to Hammonassett in Madison, even Sherwood Island a few mini-waves away from Compo — might argue.
But countless leisure travelers now know: We’ve got one of the two best beaches in Connecticut.
And one of its greatest features is its concession stand! (Hat tip: Lisa Gold)
Come to Compo for the volleyball courts. Stay for the concession stand! (Photo/Matt Murray)
Relly Coleman contributes today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo of black swallowtail caterpillars sharing a bite, and this back story:
“Over 20 caterpillars have made my parsley their nursery, devouring every leaf. They have now started their ‘walk-about’ journey to find a good place for their next stage: chrysalis. The porch shelves seem to be a favorite choice.”
Pharoah Sanders died Saturday in Los Angeles. He was 81.
The New York Times called him “a saxophonist and composer celebrated for music that was at once spiritual and visceral, purposeful and ecstatic.
His music was “a force of nature: burly, throbbing and encompassing, steeped in deep blues and drawing on extended techniques to create shrieking harmonics and imposing multiphonics. He could sound fierce or anguished; he could also sound kindly and welcoming.”
He played with John Coltrane, then recorded dozens of more albums, and toured for decades. Click here for a full obituary.
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