Pic Of The Day #125

Gloria — Alan Sterling’s old oyster boat, in Gray’s Creek (Photo/Dave Dellinger)

Photo Challenge #138

“06880” readers were cranking last Sunday.

We may not agree on what to call the span over the river: William Cribari Bridge? Bridge Street Bridge? Saugatuck Bridge?

But many folks instantly recognized last week’s photo challenge as the hand crank that once opened that multi-named bridge (and still does, if the motorized system fails).

Andy Kaplan, Peter Fulbright, Tom Erickson, David Sampson, Andrew Colabella (who also spotted the extension cord for Al’s Angels’ Christmas lights), Jay Tormey, Jonathan McClure, Joelle Malec, Seth Braunstein and Carmine Picarello all nailed it. To see Tom Feeley’s image, and read all the comments, click here.

This week’s challenge is harder.

Much harder.

If you know where in Westport you’d find this scene, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Heli Stagg)

Advocates Fear Tide Going Out On “River Of Names”

For 20 years, the River of Names has stood as one of the Westport Library‘most unique, quirky and popular attractions.

Stretching 26 feet long and standing 6 feet high, the mural contains 1,162 tiles. Each was individually created and drawn by artist Marion Grebow. Some portray historical events, like the founding of Westport, onion farming and the arrival of the railroad.

Others feature favorite places around town: the Compo Beach cannons, Minute Man monument and Staples High School. Some cite local organizations and businesses.

Most show the names of nearly 1,000 families. They honor parents, children and pets. They note when the families came to town, and where they lived.

One of the tiles shows Stevan Dohanos’ Saturday Evening Post cover of the World War II memorial outside the old Town Hall. It’s surrounded by tiles honoring familes and civic organizations. (Photo courtesy of fotki.com)

The River of Names was a special fundraiser. Under the direction of former 2nd selectman Betty Lou Cummings and Westport Historical Society/Westport Woman’s Club leader Dorothy Curran, sales of the tiles brought in $300,000 for the library’s capital campaign.

Donors were promised that the mural would exist in perpetuity.

The River of Names draws visitors — some curious, some wanting to find their own tile, all intrigued — to the lower “Riverwalk” level of the library.

Grebow designed her mural to be looked at like the river itself. Taken together, the individual tiles appear to shimmer and move — imitating the Saugatuck River a few yards away.

The River of Names.

But the library has embarked on an exciting 18-month “transformation” project. The downstairs level will be where most books are stored; a new entrance there will open up the river, improving the entire library experience for all.

On Wednesday, the mural will be taken down. A group of Westporters — including Curran, Cummings and arts advocates — fears for what happens next.

They worry that the library has no written plan for removing the mural from the wall. They don’t know where it will be stored, and how the tiles will be labeled so they can be replaced in the precise spots Grebow selected. And they haven’t gotten definite word on where it will be exhibited once the transformation is complete.

I asked library director Bill Harmer about those concerns. He replied: “Yes, it’s safe. It will be safely taken down and safely stored. It will be available for re-hanging when the library renovation project is completed.”

Town arts curator Kathie Motes Bennewitz adds:

The Library has held discussions with Marion  Grebow, individuals involved in the 1998 fundraising project, the original installer, and (as early as 2014) with 3rd-party fine art service firms on how best to de-install, pack, transport and store the wall.

The priority has always been to protect the wall during construction. I am confident it will be professionally handled and stored until it can come back to the library.

Meanwhile, mural advocates produced a video about the River of Names.

At the end, Curran says: “Every day the tide goes in, and the tide goes out. But the river remains.

“I hope that the names will, too.”

(For more information, email save.our.river.of.names@gmail.com)

Pic Of The Day #124

Longshore pool, early morning (Photo/Pamela Einarsen)

Cops’ Kids’ Scholarship Announces Matching Grant

It’s one of the most important scholarship funds around.

And one of the least known.

Several years ago, Dr. Joan Poster and her husband Dennis searched for a way to honor Westport police officers, for all they give the town.

Their idea: scholarships for local cops’ kids. Scholarships are also available to Staples High School graduates who major in criminal justice in college.

Officers Mark Pocius and Don Rice helped organize an annual golf tournament. They’ve worked tirelessly each year, rounding up contributions for it from area businesses.

Included in the PBA golf tournament photo above are officers Mark Pocius (3rd from left) and Don Rice (3rd from right).

But the Posters think Westport citizens should contribute too.

Right now, an anonymous Westporter is matching all donations, up to $10,000.

“It’s a way of thanking our wonderful police department, which protects our beautiful community,” they say. “This is for the children of all the men and women who put their lives on the line every working day.”

(To contribute, click here, or send a check for the “Westport PBA Scholarship Fund” to: Westport PBA, 50 Jesup Road, Westport, CT 06880. For more information, call Dr. Poster: 203-259-3647.)

Where “06880” Meets The World (Swedish Edition)

As an All-American goalkeeper, James Hickok led the Staples High School soccer team to 3 FCIAC titles.

At Dartmouth College, he captained the Big Green to their 3rd straight Ivy League crown last fall.

Hickok graduated in the spring. UBS hired him as an analyst.

But they allowed him to defer work for a year. First, he’s playing professional soccer.

After trials in Spain and Scotland, Hickok was signed last week by Swedish club Gimo IF FK.

He headed overseas. He walked into the clubhouse — and there, among the dozens of banners hanging from the rafters, he spotted a very familiar one:

The Westport Soccer Association pennant was exchanged with Gimo when the youth teams met years ago, at the Gothia Cup in Gothenburg, Sweden.

And — in another reminder that this is indeed a very small world — the coach of that Westport team became (years later) Hickok’s Staples coach.

How do I know?

That coach was me.

NOTE: James Hickok made 12 saves in his professional debut yesterday.

James Hickok in Sweden.

Beach Stickers: Good For Businesses?

Like all Westporters, Bruno Donatti and his wife love Compo.

In fact, they love it so much, they run 2.2 miles from their place to the beach — with a stroller and baby on board.

It’s nice exercise, and keeps them in shape.

Of course, they’d be there more often if they had a beach sticker.

The reason they don’t is because they are Westporters during the day only. They own 2 fantastic businesses: Winfield Street Italian Deli, just over the Post Road bridge (formerly Art’s), and Winfield Street Coffee, across from the train station.

The Winfield Street Deli on Post Road West.

Bruno and his staff are fully invested in Westport. They donate to every good cause. They’re part of the community. Their customers love them.

So Bruno — who lives with his wife and baby in Stamford — has a good question.

“Should a business owner like me be allowed a beach sticker? I pay property taxes on all of my equipment to the town.”

He’s looking to buy a house in town. But moving here is not easy.

What do you think, “06880” readers? Should business owners be allowed to buy a beach sticker at the Westport rate? Or at a special discounted price? Click “Comments” below.

And when you’re done, head to either of Winfield’s locations. They’re worth a detour from anywhere — even the beach.

Pic Of The Day #123

A classic Joey’s by the Shore scene (Photo/Betsy P. Kahn)

Friday Flashback #53

In 1979 2009 — as her 30th Staples High School reunion neared — Peggy Lehn made this collage:

Now — 8 years later — she dug it out of her garage, and sent it along.

Click on or hover over to enlarge. If you were in Westport then: How many of these places and things do you remember? Westport Pizzeria and Liberty Army Navy seem to be the only 2 stores still around.

If you were not here: What are you most curious about? I’m guessing the Minnybuses — and the bizarrely named S&M Pizza. (Trust me, nothing crazy went on there.)

Click “Comments” below to share memories — or ask questions.

A Night On Cockenoe Island

The other day, alert — and adventurous — “06880” reader Seth Schachter headed out to Cockenoe Island. 

He’d been there often. This time though, he camped out overnight.

The experience was so special, he offered to share it with “06880” readers. He writes:

A few weeks earlier, I had reserved our camping location through the town Conservation Department. There are only 4 spots available. A shout-out to Emily Wadsworth, who was so friendly and helpful at Town Hall.

A Westport friend and I loaded up our kayaks. It was Saturday afternoon, and we headed to the state boat ramp underneath I-95.

And they’re off!

My friend had done this once before. His lightweight camping and cooking gear all came in handy.

After our 45-minute paddle, we checked in at the “front desk” (aka unloaded our kayak at the beach), and set up camp.

Home for the night.

We then enjoyed the large “swimming pool” in our back yard, and the incredible views and sounds that surrounded us.

The “yard.”

The sunset; the constant sounds of wildlife (Cockenoe is a nesting ground and habitat for threatened and endangered birds); the almost full moon; the morning sunrise — it was all amazing.

(We did not get to see a humpback whale, unfortunately!)

Sunset on Cockenoe.

The island was beautiful. It was a great time. That Cockenoe could have housed a nuclear power plant — so close to Compo Beach — is hard to fathom. The hard-fought, successful lobbying by Westporters in the late 1960s is very much appreciated.

Driftwood at night.

I hope these photos help recap some of the magic that enveloped us on this 1-night journey so close to mainland Westport.

I look forward to my next overnight experience on Cockenoe. If the opportunity presents itself, others should do the same!

The view in the morning. (Photos/Seth Schachter)

A map of Cockenoe Island on the Town of Westport website shows the 4 reservable campsite.. Numbers 2, 3 and 4 all point toward Compo Beach and the Westport shoreline.