Remembering Sona Current

Longtime Westport volunteer Sona Current died yesterday. She was 91, and had battled dementia for 11 years.

She met her future husband Bob in 9th grade, in their home town of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Sona received a Bachelor of Science degree from the School of Oral Hygiene at Temple University, and also attended Penn State College.

Sona and Bob moved to Westport in 1961. They raised their 3 children on Canterbury Close off Park Lane, and spent 35 years with their closest friends in that neighborhood. Those friends followed the Currents to Naples, Florida, where they enjoyed many more years of fun and happiness.

Sona Current

Sona was very active in the Westport Young Woman’s League, which she served as president; the Fairfield County American Cancer Society, for which she co-edited the very successful “Connecticut Cooks” cookbook, and the Westport Garden Club. She was a longtime member of the Green’s Farms Church.

She was also a member of the Patterson Club in Fairfield, and the Royal Poinciana Golf Club in Naples. She was an avid gardener, water colorist and bridge player, and enjoyed playing golf with family and friends.

Sona is survived by her devoted children, Deborah C. Burns and husband James of Fairfield, and grandchildren, Shea, Cory and Kiara Burns; her son Darrell S. Current and wife Jodine of Louisville, Kentucky and grandchildren,Ashley (Eschenbach) Current and Tyler Current and great- grandchildren, Addison and Avery Eschenbach and Camden Current; and her son Dana Current and wife Jane of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, and grandchildren Emily Current and Robert Charles (Charlie) Current.

Sona was preceded in death by her parents, Kevork and Virginia Aznavorian, one brother, George S. Aznavorian and her cherished husband, Robert Charles Current, Jr.

A memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, a gift in her memory may be sent to the Women’s Alzheimers Movement, 11440 San Vicente Boulevard., Suite 301, Los Angeles, CA 90049.

0*6*Art*Art*0 — Week 10 Gallery

Our Saturday gallery has hit double digits — in duration, that is. We’ve always shown at least a dozen works each week.

Photos, watercolors, paintings, acrylic, chalk messages and more… each week, you show off your creativity and spirit; each week, we gain insights into your moods.

Please keep sending your work. Professional, amateur, old, young — we want your paintings, collages, sketches, photos, sculptures, cartoons, whatever. Student submissions are particularly welcome.

The only rule: It must be inspired by, reflective of, or otherwise related to the times we’re going through. Email dwoog@optonline.net.

(David Vita)

“Corona Crazy” (Laura Overton)

“Sophie in Quarantine” (Claudia Rossman)

“Time to Read,” graphite on paper (Francis Vitale)

Irene Mastriacovo says, “My yard is now my ‘go-to’ for walks. I enjoy the little things in life, like the birth of spring. The budding plants and flowers bring hope.”

Origami rug, with 2,000 birds (John Millock)

“Pandemic Provisions,” acrylic paint on cardboard box (Roberta Delano)

Artist Norah Leigh Parker turned 9 years old yesterday!

“Compo” (Lawrence Weisman)

“Protecting Our Totem” (Karen Weingarten)

Untitled (Libby Turner, age 13)

Leonor Dao Turut says, “gardening and making art keep me calm and focused amid the fears of this pandemic.”

(Amy Schneider)

I’ll Take “Art For $200.”

Artists sustain us in tough times. But these days, artists (and arts organizations) are in dire straits themselves.

Of course, artists are creative. (Duh.) So leave it to several of them to create a way to help themselves, arts groups — and all the rest of us.

At a time when some folks are not making money, and others have nothing to spend money on, #ArtsAliveWestport draws us all in.

Artists Amy Kaplan, Liz Leggett and Darcy Hicks, along with 3rd Selectwoman Melissa Kane, have a simple plan. Artists offer their work (priced no higher than $200).

When they reach $1,000 in sales, they invest 20% back to the arts by buying a work from another artist, or donating to a local arts non-profit (for example, The Artists Collective of Westport, MoCA Westport, Westport Country Playhouse, Beechwood Arts, Westport Community Theater, Levitt Pavilion, Connecticut Alliance for Music, Fairfield County Alliance for the Arts, or others).

Artists post an image of their work on Instagram or Facebook, with details like price, materials and dimensions, plus the hashtag #ArtsAlivewestport.

Buyers search for art using that same hashtag — #ArtsAliveWestport — on Instagram and Facebook. Available works show up in their feed. They can contact the artist directly (direct message or in the “Comments” section) to arrange purchase, payment, and pickup or shipment.

Art of all kinds is available through the #ArtsAliveWestport hashtag.

During last year’s exhibit, Kaplan says, artists and community members came together to experience art and exchange ideas. Now, during the pandemic, they’ve found solace in their studios — but miss the “sharing, the conversations and the connections that we search for by making that art.”

This project excites her because it “wraps back again, strengthening bonds as artists re-invest back into the community.”

The hashtag “conveys the vitality of our arts scene, and the continuity of that thread in the fabric of our town.”

Hicks adds, “When art and money are traded this way, the whole local economy benefits. And our spirits are lifted when we buy art. It is an intimate way of sharing and supporting each other.”

Leggett says #ArtsAliveWestport resembles the “6 degrees of separation” idea that always comforts her. “We have more in common than not,” she notes. “Connections that may seem small can emanate throughout this world. In this time of isolation and uncertainty, that idea is crucial for well-being — individually, and as a community.”

Questions? Email artsalivewestport@gmail.com, or call 646-299-6167.

Pic Of The Day #1131

Grace Salmon Park (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

No Memorial Day Parade? No Problem! Town Sets Virtual Celebration.

On Monday we won’t see military veterans, police officers, firefighters, EMTs, politicians, Little Leaguers, Suzuki violinists, or the Y’s Men’s fantastic float.

We’ll miss crowds along the parade route, a grand marshal waving to crowds, stirring speeches and mournful “Taps” across from Town Hall.

COVID has knocked out Westport’s Memorial Day traditions.

That’s okay. We’ll have a virtual Memorial Day parade and ceremony on Monday anyway.

At 9 a.m., a 17-minute video will be broadcast on Cablevision channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020. It will also be available on the town website (westportct.gov), and posted on the Town of Westport Facebook page.

The video will loop all day on TV after its 9 a.m. debut. It will be available on Facebook forever too, it seems.

..A classic scene from Westport’s Memorial Day parade. (Photo/Dayle Brownstein)

1st Selectman Jim Marpe thanks the Bedford Middle School band and town band teachers, Police Department Honor Guard, and artists and crew for making the production possible.

He adds:

As Memorial Day weekend arrives during this difficult time, it is as important as ever to take a few moments to remember those servicemen and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.

Obviously, the current conditions in the world dictate how we memorialize and honor those veterans. In the upcoming days, I encourage everyone to reflect and give thanks to the men and women who served and continue to serve in the military. We cannot celebrate together, but we can collectively in spirit celebrate their heroism in our own individual ways.

Two years ago, grand marshal Larry Aasen spoke about the horrors of war.He’ll join many Westporters on Monday, honoring the holiday virtually. (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

COVID Roundup: Reopening; Friday Flowers; Ford Escort; Donut Crazy; More


As Westport reopens, it may be hard to figure out who’s in charge of what. First Selectman Jim Marpe says:

The Westport Weston Health District licenses restaurants and the beauty industry. So the WWHD leads compliance of those state rules.

Fire Marshal Nathaniel Gibbons will lead enforcement efforts for all non-WWHD regulated industries. Efforts include conducting spot checks, referrals and coordination with the WWHD and Police Department.

The police are responsible for tracking all complaints. They’ll investigate to ensure compliance, and work with business owners to correct infractions.

The Police Department requests that reports of non-compliance or complaints about business operations should be made by phone to the non-emergency number: 203-341-6000. For complaints made to the state, call 211.

If you see penguins not following proper protocols, call the police non-emergency number.  (Photo/Marcy Sansolo)


As life — and human beings — come back to Main Street, the Westport Garden Club is making sure everything looks lovely.

Yesterday they planted flowers downtown. The project is part of “Friday Flowers,” the club’s campaign to brighten spirits with colorful flowers. Four beds on both sides of Main Street will be maintained throughout the summer and fall.

From left: Kathy Oberman Tracy, Kelle Ruden and Kara Wong. (Photo: Topsy Siderowf)


Of all the COVID-caused changes in Westport, none is starker than the scene at the Saugatuck train station. Almost instantly, what had always been better-get-there-early-for-a-spot lots turned into ghost towns. All those coveted parking permits? They’re gathering dust, as thousands of commuters work from home.

But — if you’re one of the few people who has been there knows — there is one lonely car. A Ford Escort has been there since mid-March. It sure is practicing social distance.

Does anyone know the back story? If so, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Caroly Van Duyn)


Meanwhile, a few yards east, Donut Crazy opened. Commuter traffic is not yet back (duh). But Juliana and Anna (below) look like they never left. Except for the masks…

(Photo/John Karrel)


A couple of days ago, I wrote about the debut of Manna Toast. Molly Healey is opening a cafe in Bedford Square in mid-July. She’s great, and it will be wonderful.

In the meantime, beginning next Tuesday (May 26) she’s delivering family-style kits that serve 4. They include ready-to-toast sourdough bread with a choice of 2 toasts (meatless meatballs, hummus, burrata or roasted squash); 1 salad (kale with tahini miso or local greens), 1 soup (creamy carrot or 3-bean chili), and 1 tea. Everyone gets 4 chocolate chip cookies.

I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek. It’s fantastic — flavorful, creative, fresh; something new and welcome in the midst of so much COVID sameness. But don’t take my words for it. Check it out here:


It doesn’t feel like it, but this is a holiday weekend. We’ll miss the Memorial Day parade. The weather is a bit iffy.

But Compo Beach will be open. Not at full capacity, yet. There are no picnic tables or grills. Port-a-potties only, too.

Still, the scene today was like any other start-of-summer, late May day.

If only.

(Photo/Kathie Motes Bennewitz)


And finally … there might be a more beautiful way to end the week. But I don’t know what it is.

Friday Flashback #193

Jeff Manchester knows his onions.

The former Staples High School wrestling star — now a resident of Saugatuck Shores — writes:

When I was at the original Saugatuck Elementary School in the mid-1970s on Bridge Street, one of the field trips took us on a tour of the town.

The teachers pointed out an onion barge buried in the mud by the Cribari Bridge not far from the school. Today it is still visible. I point it out to my kids at low tide. Do your readers know anything more about this barge?

The barely visible sunken vessel.

But Jeff is not through with onions. He adds:

Interestingly enough, my back yard is on a canal that was dredged at the turn of the last century, for the purposes of a safer route for Westport’s onion farmers.

The page Jeff provides proof — and a history of how “Saugatuck Island” was formed:

t! There’s more! Jeff sends along this story by Gregg Mangan, from ConnecticutHistory.org:

Westport is a quiet beachfront town along Connecticut’s southern coast known for its pristine views of Long Island Sound, its upscale shopping, and its close proximity to New York City.

Many attributes that make Westport a desirable residential community, however, once made it home to a thriving onion farming industry. Boats and railroad cars full of onions from Westport and the surrounding area once flooded the markets of New York.

Around the time of the Civil War, the town of Westport began to commercially farm onions. In April of every year farmers drilled rows of holes 12 inches apart for sowing onions. They separated the abundant rocks from the soil by using machines and rakes or, sometimes, by hand.

Westport farmers originally fertilized the crops using local sources of manure, but the rapid expansion of the industry required the importation of commercial fertilizers along with railroad cars full of manure from horse stables in New York. Local farmers then stored harvested onions in barns where they covered them in hay and cornstalks until eventually adopting the use of heated onion houses.

Onion carriage

For the first weeding of onions, an onion carriage, patent number 247,856 by J.C. Taylor, Westport

Horse and oxen teams then carried the onions to the shipping docks. There, men like Captain John Bulkley and his brother Peter piloted their schooners full of onions, oats, butter, eggs, hats, and combs to New York from which they returned with flour, molasses, sugar, mackerel, rum and gin. During the busiest parts of the season, two boats from nearby Southport and one from Westport made weekly trips to New York, complemented by 1 or 2 boatloads of goods shipped by rail.

Southport white, yellow and red globe onions all developed around the Westport area and became staples of the local diet. In New York, yellow and red onions sold for $1.50 per barrel and higher, while white onions commanded as much as $10 per barrel. Westport onion farmers like Talcott B. and Henry B. Wakeman (who lived on opposite sides of the road from one another) helped make Westport onions some of the most popular agricultural products in the Northeast.

The most prosperous years for onion farming in Westport lasted from around 1860 until 1885. By the end of the century, however, the rising costs of fertilizers and competition from larger farming enterprises largely brought an end to the commercial industry in Westport. Farmers then grew onions primarily for the local population, which now included numerous German and Irish immigrants who came to the area to work on the onion farms.

After the decline of the industry, wealthy urbanites slowly developed the farmland for summer homes and permanent housing away from the noise and pollution of the city. This transition from farm land to residential suburb helped mold much of the town’s character into what it is today.

(Courtesy of Edible Nutmeg)

PS: If you remember Onion Alley, now you know the name did not just fall out of the sky.

Westporter Sues Lamont; Demands Freedom Of Assembly

The CDC says that to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Americans should avoid gathering in groups.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed an executive order, restricting public gatherings to no more than 5 people.

Westport resident Bruce Miller believes that violates his constitutional rights. So — while others with the same belief march in protest, or storm state capitols — he sued.

The lawsuit — filed in US District Court in New Haven earlier this month — says that Lamont exceeded federal guidelines, and exaggerated the pandemic’s risks.

While some state residents protested in Hartford, Westporter Bruce Miller took a different route. He sued the governor.

Miller — who is representing himself — said:

The rule is a violation of the Constitutional rights to freedom of assembly, association, privacy and the right to be secure in one’s home. CT state law gives the governor no power to issue such (an) order,

Now, when the curve has been bent, hospitalizations are down, and the virus has been shown to be far less deadly than believed when the executive orders were issued, there is now no further reason to suspend the Bill of Rights.

Attorney General William Tong replied:

Our state constitution and state laws grant the Governor broad authority to protect Connecticut residents and families in a public health emergency, and his executive orders have been very clearly constitutional and fully legally justified.

Everyone Into The Pool!

It’s something I’ve noticed on my daily bike rides around town: Lots of people are building swimming pools.

Ginia Bellafante noticed it too. The New York Times‘ “Big City” columnist jumps in to the phenomenon in a story for this Sunday’s edition.

With camps closed, and many people realizing they’re not going anywhere for summer vacation, the itch to swim has skyrocketed.

After noting the beach turf wars between cities and suburbs, Bellafante turns trenchantly toward pools.

Throughout Westport, backyard pools are already open.

You know what’s coming.

Midway through the story, she writes:

Traveling farther down the coast to Westport, Conn. — Cheever country — the pool obsession is no less frenetic. If you want a pool in Westport, you need a permit from the town’s building department. The number of requests has jumped this year, with 10 coming in just the past two weeks. Michele Onoforio, who works in the department, found herself really taken aback when she got three separate calls about aboveground pools recently.

Were people really that desperate? “I hadn’t seen one of these requests in 10 years,’’ she said. “I didn’t even know the protocol.’’ An aboveground pool in Westport is like a bag of Sun Chips on a table at Per Se.

Westport is one of many aesthetically pleasing places where affluent New Yorkers fleeing the infection have decamped. Some have chosen to move permanently. “The New Yorkers all want pools, and the inventory is very low,’’ Suzanne Sholes, a real estate agent in town told me. The houses that have them receive multiple offers both on the rental and sales sides despite the catastrophes afflicting the economy.

Just thing, for New Yorkers looking to leave the city.

To the rest of the country, Westport is now the town with a super-spreading party, drones that almost picked out social distance cheaters, and now a swimming pool shortage.

Something to think about, as you lounge by the water this holiday weekend.

(To read the entire Times column, click here.)

Historic Church Offers COVID Reflections

In the 309 years since its founding, Green’s Farms Church has seen a lot.

In 1779 the British burned its meetinghouse and parsonage. The current, handsome building on Hillandale Road — the 4th in the church’s history — has been there since 1853.

Green’s Farms Congregational Church

Over those 3 centuries, clergy and worshipers have weathered wars, snowstorms and hurricanes. The steeple blew down; the lights have gone out. Disease has ravaged the congregation — including the infamous influenza pandemic of 1918-20.

The latest calamity is one shared by the world: the coronavirus. To meet the moment, the church that began 78 years before the United States was born — and 124 before Westport became a town — has turned to a 21st century tool: an online journal.

An opening shot from the Green’s Farms Church’s online journal.

Two dozen people contributed insights, including church officials and congregants. They range from young families to members in their 80s. Some have been members for 50 years; others, just a few months.

All responded to the question: “What have you learned from the lockdown?”

This is not a seat-of-the-pants, let’s-fill-some-pages project. After a description of GFC’s early response to the crisis — a drive-thru food drive, YouTube Easter service, Zoom confirmation classes — the graphically gorgeous journal gets into some very impressive reflections.

Some of the musings delve into God and religion. Others do not. Some answer the prompt through a cosmic lens. Others speak of loved ones. All are wise, honest and personal.

None are quick sound bites. Each is several paragraphs long. Clearly, everyone crafted responses with care, and respect for the reader. (Big props to the copy editor, too!)

Rev. Jeff Rider notes that “being present doesn’t require being in person.” Others wrote of new principles, hope, and feeling like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day.”

Rev. Jeff Rider’s reflections.

Taken together, says church operations director Claire England, the journal reflects “a diversity in life experience, and in how we all experience this period differently.”

However, “all are aware of how fortunate we are if we have shelter and family to call upon, and how important it is for the church to support not only each other, but the many who are suffering around us.” The church, she notes, has stepped up its outreach sharply.

What’s online now is the first version. “That’s the way most of us are getting information and staying in community at the moment,” England says. But she’s turning it into a book, which can live much longer than pixels.

And will be available 309 years from now, for the Green’s Farms Church of 2329.

(Click here for the Green’s Farms Church Coronavirus Journal.)