Category Archives: Westport life

Allyson Maida’s Valentine To Westport

As Westport celebrates Valentine’s Day, “06880” reader Allyson Maida writes:

On that recent 6-degree day, 3 of us met to discuss business over an iced tea. After a while, our talk turned to living in Westport.

One person has lived here for over 30 years. She reflected on her post-corporate home-based entrepreneurial efforts. It led to meeting wonderful people, many of whom became friends. She spoke about community-based activities. We smiled, nodding as we thought of all the good that has been done within this 22.4-square mile town.

A defining moment to move our young family to Westport happened one summer night. In Westport visiting my cousin, we decided to drive to Main Street. As we turned from the Post Road, we saw a teenager on his skateboard zigzagging down the center of the straightaway.

Music filled the air, as a band played on Onion Alley’s roof. The skateboarder stopped to speak with a man who stood by his parked car. This was a Rockwell moment.

Main Street at night (Photo by Katherine Bruan)

The newer resident spoke of moving here a few years ago, to join her daughter’s family and continue her healthcare practice. She talked about her transition into town, how her career has continued to thrive as she interacts with community members who are considerate and kind. She smiled, sharing stories of the good people she has encountered and her volunteerism within her house of worship, of which she is extremely proud.

Our discussion was not unique. However, I realized that these types of talks often lead to the same place. Speaking about experiences in Westport often includes a sense of connectedness.

This is not to suggest that Westport is perfect, or the lone holder of this characteristic. But these thoughtful conversations frequently veer toward sharing information about people helping people, people doing good for others, community-minded businesses, nonprofit efforts, local business with engaging owners/employees, community changes over time, and how Westport’s history is the underpinning of that which makes this little town profoundly great.

Allyson Maida — author of this Valentine’s piece — and friend.

The root of amorous, chocolate-covered Valentine’s Day is actually the commemoration of those who had done good works.

It is no different than any other commemorative holiday, except that in the evolution of this annual celebration, we may have missed the point. According to historians, up to 3 priests named Valentine (Valentinus) offended nobility and Roman penal codes as they acted on behalf of others who were vulnerable. All were in ministry (also referred to as community service). In helping others, they were executed, in different years — but all on February 14, now known as Valentine’s Day.

Overall, this town has maintained its sense of goodwill and community concern. There are diverse interests, and activities that reach out to every social issue. We have a bridge that hosts world peace and international understanding efforts. Civil rights chants are heard there, while nearby knitted scarf-bombed trees extend anonymous gifts of warmth to those who are cold.

We have concerts and dancing, dog parades, art shows, rubber ducky races and individual initiatives designed to make someone else feel good. We raise awareness and funds to help support those at home and abroad. We sew and donate heart-shaped pillows for patients who suffer. We pack resident-donated trailers with supplies when another state falls victim to a storm, and we celebrate one child who insists on giving the contents of their piggy bank to another who needs school supplies.

Every year, many hands help create Westport’s Community Thanksgiving Feast.

All of this barely scrapes Westport’s surface.

Take a moment to think about all that happens within our small community. Opportunity is not arbitrary. It is deliberate. There is an expectation that this town will bring the best to its residents and visitors.

That comes from somewhere. From those who settled here in the 1600s to those who live and work here now, each person has added to this community in a way that has affected someone else.

So, to each of you, near and far, who are a part of the heart of Westport: Happy Valentine’s Day!

(This post is adapted from a story Allyson originally wrote for her blog. Click here for that version.)

Hey, Commuters! Is This You?

An alert “06880” reader/Westport resident/suffering commuter writes:

This is a special place to live. Westport offers a top-notch school system; quality restaurants; Compo Beach with its wide shoreline, expansive sports courts, skate park and barbecue pits; Longshore with a waterfront restaurant, golf course, swimming pools, racquet courts and sailing school; downtown’s dozens of shops and restaurants; Levitt Pavilion; Wakeman Town Farm … I could keep going, but you get the idea.

All of those reasons, and more, are why people move to Westport.

Why wouldn’t they move here?

If they work in New York: the commute.

For the most part, train time can be very productive and relaxing. Commuters unwind after a long day. They can nap, watch Netflix, read a good book, pretend it’s Happy Hour and have a drink or 3 with friends, or try to be productive and crank out some work.

However, there is a need for train etiquette. Years spent on Metro-North with 1,000 of my closest friends has exposed me to many atrocities. Among them:

The Eater. There’s no rule against eating, and late night trains are filled with commuters and theatre/concert/sports goers with food. But there is an unwritten rule against bringing food onto commuter (before 10 a.m., and 4-7 p.m.) trains. A few folks break the morning rule, usually with something benign (bananas, muffins, yogurt). On the evening commute, everyone is starving. There’s nothing worse than food on a peak train, especially when sushi with wasabi and soy sauce permeates the entire car.

Not quite Metro-North.

The Seat Hog. You know who you are. You put your bag down, don’t make eye contact with anyone getting on, and when someone finally asks you to get up to sit down you grumble and take your time, hoping the person goes elsewhere or stands. I take pleasure in going for that seat, knowing how much it irritates you.

The Sniffler. No one wants to hear you sniffle the entire trip. There’s this wonderful invention: tissues. They’re not expensive. Throw a few in your pocket if you’re not feeling well. Better yet: Stay home.

The DJ. No one wants to hear your music. Turn it down. You’ll help the rest of us — and you won’t go deaf yourself.

Dude, your music sucks.

The Phone Chimer. Turn the sound off. Sure, getting a text is exciting. But you don’t need to inform your fellow passengers how popular you are. There’s a vibrate option. Use it.

The Relaxer. Don’t put your feet on the seat. No one wants to sit there. And for the love of God, don’t take your shoes off.

The Newspaper Reader. No need to loudly crinkle and fold every page. Who reads an actual newspaper these days anyway? There’s an Apple Store right in Grand Central. Check out the wonderful electronics.

The Nail Clipper. No, you are not in your bathroom. Enough said.

Ugh.

The “My Job is More Important Than Yours” Person. The worst part of the commute may be the slow walk along the platform into Grand Central. Cutting in front of people will only save you a few seconds. Sit in the first car — or just get in line with the rest of us.

Does that cover it? Or has our commuter commentator missed anyone? If so, click “Comments” below.

Happy New Year!

Let’s hope it’s a good one,

Without any fear…

Moms’ Moms Meet

It’s a familiar story.

Merri Mueller and her friend Antonia Landgraf both encouraged their mothers — one widowed, one divorced — to move out of their longtime homes, and to Connecticut.

Merri’s mom Joan

The women would be closer to their daughters and grandchildren. But they left behind many friends, and decades of familiarity.

In many ways, the moves worked out well. But Merri and Antonia realized that their mothers were a bit lonely.

“When you’re retired and live in a new place, it can be hard to make friends,” Merri says.

“If you’re super-outgoing you can join a club or play bridge. But if you’re on the shy side, it can be tough.”

So she and Antonia created a “Moms’ Moms” club.

One Facebook page and one get-together later, the feedback has been amazing.

Anotnia’s mom Maryan

The group first met for coffee. Another is planned for this Friday (December 7, 10 a.m.). After New Year’s, they’ll organize a book club, walking club, movies, dinners and more.

Women are thrilled to meet other women their age — their 60s and 70s — at the same stage of their lives.

“What a blessing!” one said after the first gathering. “Thanks for the gift of new friends that you young ladies offered these moms’ moms. And a lovely feast you provided! I look forward to another one — only next time let us help with the treats.”

One woman who brought her mother said they both enjoyed making new friends.

Now they’re looking for other “moms’ moms” new to town, ready to join them.

(Click here for the Moms’ Mom Facebook page. For more information — including the location of Friday’s meeting, email merrim3y@gmail.com)

Moms — and their moms — at the first Moms’ Moms meeting.

Westporters Enable Car Thieves

The Westport Police Department wants to make life hard for car thieves.

Unfortunately, too many residents make it too easy. 

The WPD says:

Early this morning, 2 vehicles were stolen from the Hillspoint Road area. Two others were broken into. Credit cards stolen from one vehicle were later used in Stratford.

All vehicles were believed to have been unlocked, with keys left inside the vehicles.

Another vehicle was stolen over the weekend. It was also unsecured, with the keys left inside. All incidents are being investigated by the detective bureau.

Please steal my car!

Despite multiple warnings over the last few years, residents continue to leave valuables and keys in their unlocked vehicles. As long as residents do not heed these warnings, thieves will continue to target our area.

We ask everyone to remove valuables from their vehicles, take their keys with them, and lock their car doors every time — whether holiday shopping downtown, parked at the gym, at the dog park or in their own driveways.

Residents are urged to participate in the “9 PM Routine.” This national public service campaign is a simple, effective way to prevent theft. It includes removing valuables from vehicles, locking car doors and bringing keys inside.

Take a few extra moments during your nightly routine to make sure the doors to your home are locked, your garage doors are secure, and exterior lights are turned on.

Help us prevent burglaries and theft in our community, and protect your home and property. For more information on the 9 PM Routine, follow us on Instagram and Facebook.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful I live in a beautiful town. I am also thankful I’m not a turkey.

Need A Ride To The Community Thanksgiving Feast?

Turkeys and trimmings? Decorations? Volunteers?

Check. Check. Check.

Everything is set for this Thursday’s Community Thanksgiving Feast (Christ & Holy  Trinity Church, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.).

But organizers want to make sure no one misses out. So they’re reminding anyone who would like to attend, but needs a ride: Please call!

The number is 203-227-1261. That’s Saugatuck Congregational Church — where the feast was held for many years. They’re happy to help match those needing rides with folks offering them.

You can call until noon Wednesday. Volunteers are standing by!

Teen’s VFW Project Propels Community Effort

A year ago, “06880”‘s Veterans Day story highlighted Dylan Mace.

The Staples High School junior was raising funds for Westport’s VFW Post 399.  The Riverside Avenue building lacked a handicap-accessible bathroom. Dylan was appalled — “brave men and women who serve could lose limbs!” he said — and vowed to help.

Dylan Mace

Dylan — whose grandfather was a Korean War vet — went to work. Singlehandedly, he raised almost $8,000.

And then he got more help from the community.

Early in his fundraising, architect Lou Lefort and electrician Barry O’Reilly offered their services.

General contractor Scott Rochlin contacted Dylan too. Scott’s son Charley was a decorated Marine.

After Charley died in an automobile accident, Scott’s family set up a foundation to help veterans and their families. Scott volunteered to oversee the project — and said his organization would cover any extra costs.

Scott also brought in Dino Meloni, from Nicolia Marble and Tile. He installed the bathroom tile, gratis.

Bender donated a handicap sink and toilet. Lowe’s and The Tile Shop in Norwalk gave Dylan contractor discounts on supplies. Westport Glass chipped in too.

One of the specially created VFW tiles.

But Dylan wanted this to be extra-special for veterans. He found Custom-Tiles.com online, and asked if they could make special tiles with the emblems of the 5 US military branches. The owner worked with Dylan, creating amazing ones for the walls.

Dylan was so moved by the project, and the people he met through it, that when it came time to plan his service project for the National Honor Society, he asked to paint the inside of the VFW — and spruce up the outside.

Congratulations, Dylan, for all you do.

I’m sorry I couldn’t post this a few days ago, on Veterans Day.

But thanks to you — and all who helped — every great day at the VFW will now be even better.

Happy November 12!

Yesterday was Veterans Day. We’re still a week and a half from Thanksgiving.

But CVS already rolled out its first Santa Claus of the season.

Many others — and Christmas music, holiday advertising and every other marketing tool known to man — can’t be far behind.

I want to get into the spirit.

Really, I do.

But I gotta say: That’s one of the saddest looking Santas I’ve ever seen.

Thanksgiving Hosts Sought For International Students

The United Nations Association helps Americans understand the vital role that organization plays around the globe.

There are chapters all over the country. We’re close to UN headquarters, so the Southwest Connecticut affiliate is particularly active and important.

But they do a lot more than organize and promote jUNe Day. And their work extends beyond UN delegates and staffers.

For more than 50 Thanksgivings, the UNA-SWCT has hosted international students living in New York City. The aim is for them to celebrate a traditional American holiday — one they may be unfamiliar with, and unable to enjoy because everyone they know in this country is off with their own families and friends.

Westport families have volunteered. But there are tons of international young people in New York, so there is plenty of room for more.

Students take the train to Westport. Hosts pick them up at the station, and return them there after lunch or dinner.

If you’re interested in hosting — or have questions — call Joan Haas: 203-454-7685.