Roundup: Memorial Day Parade, Yankee Doodle Fair, Waterspout …

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In one more sign of approaching normalcy, the town is moving forward with plans for an actual Memorial Day parade.

This year’s theme for the float contest is “Honoring Women Veterans.” Certificates will be awarded for Best Development of Theme, Best Youth Organization Float, Most Creative, Best Community Organization, Most Colorful, and the Best Overall Float.

If past form holds true, the Y’s Men will win the Overall award. They’ve won it nearly every year for the past 20 or so.

And the only reason the Y’s Men did not win in 2020, 2017 or 2016 was because there were no parades. (COVID last year; rain those other 2.)

Weather and COVID permitting, this year’s event begins at 9 a.m. on May 31, at Saugatuck Elementary School. Veterans — and thousands of others — will march north on Riverside Avenue, trn right on Post Road East, then continue to Myrtle Avenue.

 

The Y’s Men’s float won, as usual, in 2012. This one honored Korean War veterans — complete with freezing mist.

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The Memorial Day parade is not the only tradition that’s returning.

The Westport Woman’s Club’s Yankee Doodle Fair returns this year — but not in its century-old mid-June, end-of-school, welcome-summer slot.

Yesterday, the Board of Selectmen approved the event for September 23 through the 26th.

So it will be a start-of-school, welcome-fall fair.

But it’s still at the Woman’s Club site on Imperial Avenue.

Even after 100 years, little changes.

The 2017 Yankee Doodle Fair (Drone photo/Ryan Collins)

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Yesterday was spring-like — warm and mostly sunny. Guy Sherman wanted to  photograph a few interesting clouds over Saugatuck Shores.

He got a bonus: this rare and remarkable waterspout:

(Photo/Guy Sherman)

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A month ago, the old wood-shingled house at 19 Soundview Drive bore a demolition sign.

Then it was gone.

Now the home — one of the oldest, as-yet-unrenovated along the Compo exit road– has been painted and spiffed up. It looks eager to greet renters and beachgoers.

And ready to last another 100 years.

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The Learning Community Day School celebrates its 50th anniversary on April 28th.

The institution — housed for many years on Hillspoint Road — is not just patting themselves on the back. They’re raising money for kindergarten scholarships, with their first-ever golf outing.

It’s set for Monday, April 26 at Longshore. Check-in and breakfast are 9 a.m.; tee times start at 10 a.m. You can play 9 or 18 holes.

The cost is $250 per player, $900 for a foursome. You can form your own twosome or foursome, or be paired up.

Popup Bagels and Manny’s Ultimate Bloody Mary Mix are sponsoring food and drinks. Of course, there are prizes and giveaways.

For more information, email learning_community@yahoo.com or call 203-227-8394.

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Longtime Westport resident Judith Portner Sappern died peacefully on Saturday. She was 88 years old.

The Rumson, New Jersey native was an adventurer who, after serving as managing editor of her high school newspaper, took the unusual step at the time to go out of state for college. A

t the University of Connecticut she served as president of Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority, made lifelong friends and fell in love with Donald Sappern. Married shortly after graduation, they started a telephone answering service in Norwalk.  As Don’s career progressed and he became a successful insurance executive, Judy managed office operations and bookkeeping.

Judy Sappern

As the couple’s children grew, Judy helped with their studies and supported every interest, from the choir room and pool to the baseball diamond and the rock band that practiced in the basement. She fed generations of Staples High School students who used their nearby house on Wedgewood Lane as a home base throughout the day.

Judy pursued a master’s degree in social work, and volunteered at Norwalk Hospital. She loved helping others work through tough times, and passed that empathy on to her children. When not at the hospital or office, Judy worked on needlepoint, and played golf or bridge with friends. She also became a personal computer enthusiast and fanatical supporter of UConn basketball.

She was preceded in death by her husband of 63 years, Donald, and her older sister Joyce Cooper. Judy is survived by her children, Laurie Sappern Gaugler  (Dean), and Matthew (Rianne), both of Fairfield, and Adam (Margot)of Bethel, Vermont. Judy enjoyed frequent visits and calls with her 7 grandchildren: Billy, Chloe, Brian, Geoffrey, Rachel, Carly and Tobey. She is also survived by her beloved sister-in-law, Pietrina Sappern of Milford.

A memorial service will be held when travel and gathering is less limited. Memorial contributions in Judy’s memory can be made to the IGA Nephropathy Foundation, PO Box 1322, Wall, New Jersey 07727.

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And finally … sure, the IRS has extended this year’s filing deadline to May 17. But April 15 will always be, um, special.

 

Turkey Hill House Earns Historic Preservation Award

It’s easy to see all the teardowns in town.

Sometimes we focus on them so much, we miss the preservation efforts going on nearby.

Preservation Connecticut notices. In fact, they’ve given the owners of 70 Turkey Hill Road South a Connecticut Preservation Award — one of only 10 in the state. The virtual ceremony is May 5.

The 2-story, 1,230-square foot 1892 farmhouse was completely restored last year.

Rahul Ghai and his wife Priyanka Singh bought the property in November 2019. They had several options. They could demolish the 127-year-old house and build a new one; a demolition permit had already been issued to the previous owners.

They could keep the building as it was, and build a new home on the premises.

Or they could restore it — and also build a new house nearby.

70 Turkey Hill Road South in 2019, before restoration …

The couple decided to restore the 1892 structure, and also build a large house, using a Westport 32-18 regulation obtained by the prior owners. Such a plan — which has prevented 22 other historic structures from being demolished — must be approved by a joint Architectural Review and Historic District Commission committee, then by the Planning & Zoning Commission.

Ghai and Singh hired Christopher Pagliaro, the architect for the previous owners. He worked with them to restore both the exterior and interior.

Work was extensive. All vinyl siding was removed, and replaced with wood. The asphalt roof was replaced with cedar shingles. All windows were replaced. The original front and rear porches — which had been enclosed as living space throughout the years — were recreated.

… during the project …

A number of homeowners have demolished homes the size of 70 Turkey Hill South, replacing them with larger, more modern houses. The Preservation Award press release notes that Westport is “sometimes called Connecticut’s teardown capital.”

The 32-18 regulation shows that those older homes can be retained — while simultaneously allowing construction of new ones.

Singh noted, “We are strongly committed to restoration and preservation of historical structures. Our school-age daughter is also passionate about history. But we couldn’t have done it without our architect Chris, and Ryan Fletcher of Fletcher Development.”

… and after.

Certificates will be presented to the owners, architect, contractor, town of Westport and the Westport Museum of History & Culture.

(Hat tip: Bob Weingarten, house historian for the Westport Museum of History & Culture, who nominated 70 Turkey Hill Road South for the 2021 Preservation Award.)

Pic Of The Day #1458

Peaceful Compo morning (Photo/Roseann Spengler)

Unsung Heroes #186

“06880” has already saluted the COVID vaccinators as Unsung Heroes.

But a recent email got my attention. Susan Maya writes:

The hard working pharmacists at Walgreens are unsung heroes.

Rose Stillo and the pharmacists at Walgreens are busy vaccinating Westport, while still filling our prescriptions and answering our questions.

Staples High School Key Club members, wanted to say “thanks.” They put together goodie bags to thank them for all they have done over the past year.

Staples Key Club at Walgreens.

Which got me thinking. Why not give a shout-out to all the vaccinators again? And everyone else who has made it happen: the Westport Weston Health District, officials who have turned places like Walgreens, CVS, hospitals, college campuses — and the Staples High School fieldhouse (for educators) — into vaccination sites.

But let’s also thank the people like the Staples Key Club, who go out of their way to make people smile in these still-too-difficult days.

Unsung Heroes is not a finite category. There are more than enough people doing more than enough good things these days. So if you’ve given a vaccine, helped someone get one — in a group or individually — or simply made someone at a vaccine site smile: You are our Unsung Hero!

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email dwoog@optonline.net)

Roundup: Pizza, Pequot Library, Parkway …

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The Westport Farmers’ Market opens next month. But if you thought you were following them on Facebook, you might have missed the news.

During the winter, the WFM page was hacked. They lost over 8,000 followers — and the chance to inform them about news, vendors, special events and more.

They created a new Facebook page, and are rebuilding their following. But many people don’t realize they’re no longer “friends” with the WFM.

A generous supporter offered a “matching” Facebook challenge. If they reach 1,000 followers, the supporter will make donate $1,000 for WFM programs.

So, whether you think you follow the Farmers’ Market on Facebook or not, click here, then click the “Like” button. Then share that post with friends and family.

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Speaking of farms and food, here’s a way to keep ’em down on the farm: Pizza.

On Tuesdays starting May 4 (4 to 7 p.m.), “Tony Pizza Napolitano” will make 16-inch wood-fired cheese pizzas live at the Wakeman Town Farm oven.

Tony lives in Weston, and the pizzas he makes at The Grange are an 0688e legend. He uses “only top-quality local, organic ingredients — and love.” Click here for a rave review from Stephanie Webster’s CTBites.

Go to Facebook. Find “Tony Pizza Napolitano,” click “like” and follow the page. The weekly menu is posted every Monday morning. To order, send Tony a private message for a time slot. Once it’s confirmed, pick it up the next day at the Cross Highway farm..

It’s a perfect dinner — particularly if you’re already at Wakeman Field picking up the kids.

Tony Pizza Napolitano

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I don’t know whether the long-running Merritt Parkway project is done.

But — after a couple of years at least — all the construction equipment is gone from the Exit 41 parking lot.

It doesn’t look great. But it sure looks a lot better than it did.

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The Westport Library is seeking candidates for its Board of Trustees. Of particular interest: people with expertise in finance, fundraising and development for non-profits; knowledge and understanding of current trends in digital media and information technology, or a background in municipal government and/or not-for-profit law.

Trustees serve 4-yeare terms. Click here for more information.Interested candidates should email a resume and letter of interest to rpowell@westportlibrary.org. The deadline is April 23.

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Speaking of libraries: The Pequot’s great John James Audubon “Birds of America” exhibit is on display through May 2.

What’s the Westport hook (besides the fact that many “06880” residents love the historic Southport institution)?

The exhibit — and the many Pequot collections — are now safe for (hopefully) another 125 years.

A $1.5 million project to rehabilitate the endangered terra cotta roof was steered by 2 trustees, both from Westport.

Coke Anne Murchison Wilcox — member of a famed Texas family — majored in architecture at Princeton, then studied at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture. She worked for several architects, including Philip Johnson. In the early 1990s Wilcox purchased The Maidstone Arms in East Hampton. She and her husband, Jarvis Wilcox, have 3 adult children.

Charlotte Rogan spent 25 years as a writer before her first novel was published in 2012. The Lifeboat was included on The Huffington Post’s 2015 list of “21 books from the last 5 years that every woman should read,” and has been translated into 26 languages. Her second novel, Now and Again, continued to explore issues of morality and justice. Rogan attended Greens Farms Academy when it was an all-girl’s school, studied architecture at Princeton University, and worked for a large construction firm before turning to writing.

The Pequot Library. with its famed roof.

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And finally … in honor of Tony Pizza Napolitano (above):

Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club’s Intriguing Sequel: They DO Own The Water

This morning’s story about the Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club’s claim that it owns not only the land under its water — but the water itself — drew a reaction from readers. A few pointed out special circumstances.

One reader — who asked not to be identified — emailed:

In fact, the yacht basin is privately owned. While the general rule is that the state has jurisdiction over tidal and navigable waters like this, as is the case with both the Cedar Point and Compo yacht basins, the Saugatuck yacht basin was deeded to the yacht club by the Governor of Connecticut, I believe when it was proposed to be dredged out or shortly after.

The reader sent a land record map of the basis. Note 2 on the bottom right shows that none of the other lots facing the yacht basin (Duck Pond) have “any riparian, littoral or other rights to said pond or the waters therein.”

The reader notes that the lots never relinquished those rights. Rather, they were created out of land that did not previously have waterfront access, and were created with the stipulation that they would not have access after the basin was dredged.

The same reader sent a second map (below), adding:

The residential properties facing the yacht basin each have deeds that refer to another map recorded with the town. The deeds refer to the parcels being owned, subject to the notes on this map, including the section calling out each lot as having no rights past their property line with the yacht club.

Evan Stein wrote in the comments section that the Saugatuck Shores homeowner who had been warned of trespassing (via kayak) by the yacht club had not Googled deeply enough.

Evan provided a link to a 2008 tax assessment appeal to the town by Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club. Evan then cites relevant details from the ruling:

The subject property consists of 5 parcels aggregating to 14.68 acres of land, 10 acres of which are the land submerged beneath the body of water known as the Duck Pond, which serves at the plaintiff’s yacht basin.

The subject property is not waterfront property in the classic sense, as it is not on the waterfront of Long Island Sound. A boater must navigate from the Duck Pond boat basin through a dredged channel, past the Cedar Point Yacht Club, past the town mooring fields and the town marina in order to reach the open waters of Long Island Sound.

Harbormaster Bob Giunta responded too. He remembers as a child watching Kowalsky Brothers creating the yacht club, by excavating land.

So it appears that yes, Saugatuck Harbor does indeed own both the land underneath its basin, and the water itself. They do seem to be within their rights to restrict access to it, even by homeowners on its shore.

Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club.

However, that does not settle the question of whether they should.

Matthew Mandell writes:

I used to do a lot of whitewater rafting. Many of these rivers ran through paper company land. While we could navigate the river freely, we could not set foot on the shore, unless it was an emergency. Often the company had a dam that generated its power. Deals were worked out to open the dam for an hour to create the bubble of water for rafting. Others were spring melt runoff.

Regardless of land/ownership the yacht club should act more like the paper companies and allow use.

And Deb Alderson raises an interesting point:

If the yacht club owns the land under the Duck Pond, then do the other homeowners around the Duck Pond own waterfront property, or do they own landlocked property with water views?

It used to be that property taxes were bumped up by about 10% for waterfront property. If those properties are paying a premium for waterfront property, they may have a case for a reduction in their taxes. It’s worth asking the question.

Despite living on the basin, this Duck Pond homeowner appears to have no legal access to it.

 

Yacht Club Claims: We Own The Water!

Last summer, a Westport homeowner walked out of her Saugatuck Shores home. She strolled through her back yard, to the edge of the water. She slipped into her kayak, and paddled a few yards.

Suddenly, she was stopped. A woman from Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club, across the way, yelled that she was trespassing.

“We own the water!” the SHYC representative said. “We reserve it for our members!”

Stunned, the Westport resident retreated.

She’s not alone. A neighbor was reprimanded, the same way.

The Saugatuck Shores homeowner’s back yard.

Commodore Sandy Heller and Vice Commodore Roger Schwanhausser followed up with a letter. They sent it “as neighbors,” with “a significant safety concern for both you and our members.”

The letter continued:

We have received member reports, and have pictures, of kayaks stored on your property being launched by individuals crossing over our property line to access the water and into our Club basin.

This has created navigational hazards and safety to concerns to our members as they transit in and out of our basin. Recently, one of our members nearly collided with a non-member kayaker who was unable or unwilling to yield navigational right of way.

Kayaks, ready — but forbidden — to launch, near Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club.

But safety was not the commodores’ only concern.

Further, as you may not know, the Saugatuck Harbor basin is private property. Our Club owns the land under the water, and per Connecticut law, also owns the water above that land up to the mean high tide line.

Any unapproved access to our basin is, therefore, trespass on our property and is not allowed by Connecticut law.

These facts are documented in our deeds and property records, which go back almost 60 years, and are recorded and memorialized at Town Hall in Westport.

We, at Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club, have always strived to maintain good relationships with all our neighbors. We are fully aware of our presence in, what is largely, a residential neighborhood.

We want to be respectful of our neighbors’ privacy, their safety, and their property rights. We would expect the same of you, and request that you refrain from any further access to our basin in the future.

But is it really “their” basin?

The homeowner asked someone in Town Hall’s Conservation office. “She laughed,” the woman says. “She said, ‘No one owns the water!”‘

Kayakers and boaters — not including the Westporter in this story — enjoying the water near Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club.

The Westporter — who notes that “people come in with kayaks and paddleboards all the time from the other side of the inlet” — did what any reasonable person would do. She Googled.

She found Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s “Living on the Shore” page. It says:

While much of the Connecticut shore is privately owned, the coastal tidelands actually belong to all the people—not just in terms of our environmental and cultural heritage, but in a specific legal sense as well.

Under the common law public trust doctrine, a body of law dating back to Roman times, coastal states (as sovereigns) hold the submerged lands and waters waterward of the mean high water line in trust for the public.

The general public may freely use these intertidal and subtidal lands and waters, whether they are beach, rocky shore, or open water, for traditional public trust uses such as fishing, ­shellfishing, boating, sunbathing, or simply walking along the beach.

In Connecticut, a line of state Supreme Court cases dating back to the ­earliest days of the republic confirms that in virtually every case private ­property ends at mean high water (the shore elevation, which is the ­average of all high tides) and that the state holds title as trustee to the lands waterward of mean high water, subject to the private rights of littoral access, that is, access to navigable waters.

Public Trust sketch

What is the boundary of the public trust area?

The public trust area includes submerged lands and waters waterward of mean high water in tidal, coastal, or navigable waters of the state of Connecticut. On the ground, the mean high water boundary of the ­public trust area can often be determined by a prominent wrack line, debris line, or water mark. In general, if an area is regularly wet by the tides, you are probably safe to assume that it is in the public trust. The public trust area is also sometimes referred to as tidelands and is defined as ”public beach“ by the Connecticut Coastal Management Act, C.G.S. 22a-93(6). While the public trust area extends up navigable rivers, it does not extend inland to areas landward of the mean high water line.

What rights does the public have within the public trust area?

According to the Connecticut courts, public rights to the shore include the
following:

  • The public has the right to fish and shellfish over submerged lands. Peck v. Lockwood, 5 Day 22 (1811);
  • The public has the right to pass and repass in navigable rivers. Adams v. Pease, 2 Conn 481 (1818);
  • The public may gather seaweed between ordinary high water and low water. Chapman v. Kimball, 9 Day 38 (1831);
  • “Public rights include fishing, boating, hunting, bathing, taking shellfish, gathering seaweed, cutting sedge, and of passing and repassing ….” Orange v. Resnick, 94 Conn 573 (1920);
  • “It is settled in Connecticut that the public has the right to boat, hunt, and fish on the navigable waters of the state.” State v. Brennan, 3 Conn Cir. 413 (1965).

Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club

She found another page: “Access to Your Boat: Your Littoral Rights.”

Although shoreline residents must share the public trust area with their fellow citizens, every coastal property owner enjoys unique legal rights by virtue of owning waterfront land. Just as an upland property owner has the right to access a public road, a coastal property owner has an exclusive right to access navigable water from his or her property.

This coastal right of access is known as a “littoral” or “riparian” right. Technically, “riparian” applies to rivers while “littoral” applies to coastal waters, but the terms are often used interchangeably.

The littoral right of access provides the property owner reasonable access to the water from his or her property.

Reasonable access can be achieved by launching a boat directly from the shore, by use of a mooring, or by constructing a dock suitable for the site conditions and properly permitted by  DEEP and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Littoral access does not imply a right to build whatever size dock or wharf a property owner wishes, nor does it mean that a littoral owner may routinely exclude boats or moorings from the waters in front of his or her property.

In terms of access, navigable waters are equivalent to a public road, and a dock serves the same purpose as a private driveway. A littoral landowner may not exclude the public from lawful uses of navigable water, just as an upland owner cannot exclude the public from driving or walking on the street in front of his or her house. However, a duly authorized dock or other littoral structure is private property, and no one can legally interfere with the exercise of this right of access, just as individuals cannot use or block someone’s driveway.

Seems like the Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club neighbor “shore” has a good case.

PS: Someone from SHYC told the Saugatuck Shores resident, “you can join our club.”

“I don’t have a boat!” she replied.

Pic Of The Day #1457

Levitt Pavilion sunrise (Photo/Tom Cook)

Roundup: Remarkable Movies, Levitt Grass, Bald Eagle …

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It’s April break for the Westport schools. And “official” opening week for the Remarkable Theater.

The Imperial Avenue parking lot lineup is a great one.

Today (Tuesday, April 13, 7:30 p.m.): “Minari.” Nominated for 6 Oscars this year, including Best Picture. A Korean-American family moves to an Arkansas farm in search of its own American dream.

Prior to the movie, a documentary short featuring Westport’s Asian-American rally organizers will be shown. It’s produced by 4th Row Films, in association with the Remarkable Theater.

In it, local residents share their experiences growing up, their journey to Westport. and how they’re raising awareness of rising Asian hate by forming a group (they’re on Instagram: @AAPIWestport or email: AAPIWestport@gmail.com).

Official opening night is Friday, April 16 (7:30 p.m.): “The Goonies.” In this 1985 adventure comedy, a bunch of kids trying to save their homes from foreclosure embark on a treasure hunt adventure.

Saturday, April 17 (7:45 p.m.): “Mamma Mia!” ABBA stars in the best sing-along movie ever made.

Wednesday, April 21: “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid.” One-time local residents Paul Newman and Robert Redford star in this 1969 classic.

The night includes 4 short non-fiction documentary films before the feature:

  • Gatsby in Westport“: Deej Webb helps convince you that Westport is the town that inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby.”
  • “Paul Shows Bob the New Playhouse”: A scene from the upcoming documentary about the Westport Country Playhouse.
  • “A Townie Breakfast Sandwich”: A tour of Westport’s breakfast sandwiches, including Calise’s, Village Bagels and Coffee An’.
  • “Westport This Used to Be”: featuring Jill Gault and Antonio Antonelli.

Click here for tickets. Not all shows may be available yet. The Imperial Avenue lot opens an hour before showtime, for tailgating.

A couple of local guys starred in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

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The Levitt Pavilion is planning for a summer season — and for at least one bit of housekeeping.

The Conservation Department has approved a request for turf installation near the stage, to replace existing grass (which sometimes turns to mud).

They’ll also install a drainage system to manage runoff in the lower area of amphitheater.

One of the great things about a Levitt performance is dancing in front of the stage. Now we won’t have to worry about “dirty dancing.”

Get on up and dance to the music!

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Last March, Bank of America closed its 3 Westport branches.

Today, customers received letters saying that the one at 980 Post Road East — next to the drive-thru Starbucks — will be closed permanent.

The letter said that the downtown branch — next to Design Within Reach — is “still here for you.”

Great! Except that, a few days ago, it was still closed.

No word either on the fate of the branch near the Southport line.

The Bank of America branch at 980 Post Road East is permanently closed.

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Starting May 2, children younger than 2 years old are welcome back to the Westport Library. A press release says, “We gladly welcome them to borrow books, audiobooks, CDs, and magazines.” I’m guessing most of that borrowing will be done for them, by somewhat older people.

The Westport Library welcomes children under 2 soon. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

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Andrew Colabella snapped a great photo of a Sherwood Mill Pond bald eagle yesterday.

And he provides the back story: It took a position in this tree from 3 egrets. He had just swooped down on one, which had a fish in its talons.

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)

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And finally … in honor of “Butch Cassidy” at the Remarkable Theater:

 

Remembering Amy Oestreicher

Amy Oestreicher — a multi-talented artist, performer and writer, who battled unfathomable medical issues with courage, grace resilience and humor — died last week. Her second book, “Creativity and Gratitude” was published a few days earlier. She was just a few days shy of her 34th birthday.

Amy almost died 16 years ago, when she was 18. Her life since then was remarkable — and remarkably inspiring. Here is a story I wrote in 2013.

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In 2005, Amy Oestreicher’s life was good.

After years of acting and singing locally, and auditioning in New York, she had just been accepted into the very prestigious University of Michigan musical theater program.

Suddenly, Amy suffered a major blood clot.  Her stomach exploded.  She lapsed into a coma.

During the 1st week of that nightmare, she had 10 surgeries. Doctors removed her entire stomach. Her coma continued for months.

Amy Oestreicher

Amy Oestreicher

Through her long siege in ICU, “my father saved my life,” Amy says. (He’s Westport dermatologist Dr. Mark Oestreicher.) Her 3 brothers were constantly by her side. (The experience helped one decide to be a doctor. Jeff is now in his 1st year of residency — as a pediatric gastroenterologist.)

For nearly 3  years, she could not eat or drink. Not one morsel of food, or a drop of water.

The Oestreichers moved to a smaller house near Compo Beach, where they could better help Amy.

She was hungry and thirsty. But as soon as she realized what lay ahead, Amy vowed not to be a permanent patient. “I wanted to live life,” she says.

Curtain Call in Stamford had a casting call for “Oliver!” “I couldn’t eat or drink, and I was as skinny as a pole,” Amy recalls. “I had tubes and bags all over. I could hardly walk.”

But she got the female lead — Nancy — and managed to do the show. By the end of the run, she was drinking 2 ounces of water a day.

The next summer, she landed a role in Staples Players‘ production of “Cats.”

“I was still starving,” Amy says. “I just needed to be around people. Doing that show was great.”

During her long recovery, Amy Oestreicher also painted — in big, bold colors.

Surgeries continued. One took 19 hours, using 3 shifts of doctors and nurses. The outcome was not as good as expected.

Finally, though — 27 surgeries later — Amy can eat and drink.

She’s also — at 26 years old — just been accepted at Hampshire College.

Before she goes away to school, though, she’s working on another project. “Gutless & Grateful: A Musical Feast” is Amy’s 1-woman show.

First performed last October at the Triad in New York, it’s been called “a moving personal history told with grace and humor, and garnished with great songs sung from the heart.”

Amy Oestreicher onstage.

“Doing that show meant so much to me,” Amy says. “I had been so isolated. For 7 years I talked only to my parents and my doctors. Then to perform, and have people I don’t know hug me! It was so rewarding to share my story, and know it inspires people.”

Written by Amy and Jerold Goldstein — based on hundreds of pages of her journals — it returns to Bridgeport’s Bijou Theatre June 1 and 2. On June 16 and 24, Amy takes her show back to the Triad, and on July 16 to Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

“I’ve always written and performed,” Amy says. “So many things have happened to me over the years. I just wanted to tell my story.”

You and I may not call the past 8 years of Amy’s life “funny.” The fact that she does — and sings and talks about it with such intimacy, gusto and pride — is reason enough to put “Gutless & Grateful” on your calendar now.

Amy Oestreicher poster

In the years since that 2013 story was posted, Amy offered mixed media “Show Me Your HeART” workshops (click here for that story), and wrote 2 books. Her first was “My Beautiful Detour: An Unthinkable Journey  from Gutless to Grateful.” Click here for those links.

Amy Oestreicher