Tag Archives: Alan Sterling

Question Box: Answers #2

Last week’s Question Box was a smash.

Readers wanted answers to everything from Grace Salmon Park and “Bob” to our eternally renovated bridges and old/new firehouse. 

I did what I could to respond. Readers pitched in. (Click here if you missed it.)

Then you sent more. Here’s the next set of questions. I know some of the answers. When I don’t — someone else will. Click “Comments” below to help.

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I’m sure you’ve covered this in the past. But I’m curious about the history of the boat “Gloria” that I pass every day as I ride through Longshore. And what might the future hold for this venerable vessel? (John Richers)

Short answer: Yes, I’ve written about Gloria many times. Click here for some of those stories and photos.

Longer story: Alan Sterling built the wooden oyster boat himself. He named it after an old girlfriend, and took it oystering on 150 acres of beds, between Compo Beach and Cockenoe Island. It was a tough job, but Alan — a Staples grad — loved it from the day he began, in 1964.

Alan moored Gloria in Gray’s Creek, between Compo Beach Road and the Longshore exit. Some winters, he lived on the boat. It was cold — but it was home.

On July 4, 2014, Alan died of a heart attack.

After that, Gloria drifted. Michael Calise took care of it. Earlier this year, it washed up on shore. Its future is uncertain. It’s an old boat that’s seen a lot, and given many Westporters years of joy.

Just as it did for Alan Sterling.

Gloria, in 2017. (Photo/John Kantor)

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I am new to Westport, from Brooklyn. I know there is talk about revitalizing downtown, and bringing in businesses to fill some of the vacancies. I’m curious if there has ever been a survey of what people would like to see downtown? I am interested in business ownership, and really being part of the community. I wonder what type of businesses folks think would be needed and supported. (Travis Rew-Porter)

Travis, this is awesome. I don’t know of any consumer/user survey. It’s a great idea.

And readers: If you’d like to work with Travis on a business or revitalization project, click “Comments” below!

What kind of businesses do Westporters want? Great question! (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)

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Does Public Works have any input into local traffic lights? The timing at Morningside Drive/Post Road has changed to prioritize the Post Road more dramatically. The green light for Morningside lasts just 3 seconds. It is impossible to cross on foot. Help! (Amy Bedi)

Unfortunately, nearly every light in town is on a state road. Those balls are in the Department of Transportation’s court.

Click here for a link to report issues to the DOT. But don’t hold your breath.

Town officials — including the 1st selectman and Department of Public Works — are in contact with the state about traffic lights. They can sometimes push things along. But they don’t hold their breath either.

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Can Westporters use the track at Staples to run, jog or walk? If so, is it time restricted? Do you need a pass? (Carmen Castedo)

The Laddie Lawrence Track at Paul Lane Field (the first time I’ve written that!) is open to all — except during the school day, or when it’s used after school by the track team, or if there is another sports event going on.

No pass is needed. But keep Fido home!

The Laddie Lawrence Track, at Paul Lane Field. (File photo; the track is now blue.)

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Is Clinton Avenue named after the namesake of Joseph J. Clinton VFW Post 399 on Riverside Avenue? (Linda Velez)

Not only have I never been asked that — I never even thought about it.

Private Joseph J. Clinton was a Westport soldier. He was killed in France just 4 days before the armistice.

That explains the VFW name. But the road off Main Street, opposite North Compo: I have no idea. Except to say that it is not named for either Bill or Hillary.

VFW Joseph Clinton Post 399.

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What happened to the time capsule that was buried at Greens Farms Elementary School for the bicentennial? I heard that at one time 3 people had plans and permission to dig it up. There is a new road in front of the school. You have a lot of fans who were involved in the project. (A passive-aggressive reader: This was sent by mail, with no name or return address.)

I addressed this in 2012. The answer was the same then: No one knows. (Click here to see.) 

But one reader responded with a back story:

I remember the time capsule at Greens Farms El in 1976. It was buried in the front lawn. All the classes/grades were asked to participate in drawings (I think that I was in maybe 3rd grade & our class drew pictures of ourselves and described our lives. We all mused how fun it would be for people 100 years later to see how we lived).

A crane dug a deep hole, and there was quite a bit of ceremony around the time capsule being buried. I’ve told people about it over the years, only to wonder if anyone else remembered it, as well:)

If anyone can dig deeper (ho ho), click “Comments” below.

Has anyone seen my time capsule? (Photo/Seth Schachter)

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Some 80 years ago I lived on 573 Imperial Avenue, at the corner of Wakeman Place. The numbers have been reset, but the house is still there. My brothers and I used to swim in the river. I remember diving off “White Rock,” which was close to the shore. Is it still there, or am I dreaming? (Karl Taylor)

You’re probably not dreaming, but I have not heard of it. Wakeman Place residents: What’s the deal?

Wakeman Place at Imperial Avenue. Karl, was this your house?

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Why did the state Department of Transportation remove and replace the trees, bushes and buffering hills from the northbound side of the Merritt Parkway, near the Westport Weston Family YMCA? It cost a lot of money. Was the outcome worth the expense? (Jacque O’Brien)

I asked State Representative Jonathan Steinberg, who serves on the House Transportation Committee. He says that location was a major staging area for projects up and down the Merritt.

Now that equipment and material has been moved in and out, it’s time to replace what was lost.

New trees on the Merritt Parkway, near the Y. (Photo/Bob Mitchell)

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What first inspired you to start “06880,” and did you ever think it would keep you this busy? (Jack Krayson)

Wow! I didn’t expect an “06880” question on “06880.”

I started the blog in March of 2009. I was a columnist for the Westport News (I still am!), but realized the future of print journalism was, um, iffy. I wanted to continue to write about town people, issues, events and history. Someone suggested I start a blog.

“No way!” I said. (That’s also what I said about cell phones, when they came in. And computers, before that.)

But he showed me WordPress, a great blogging platform. I learned the basics in a weekend. Here we are, 13,000+ posts (and 136,000+ comments later).

I never dreamed it would keep me this busy. If I knew then what I know now …

… I’d do it all again, in a heartbeat.

(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

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Why is Westport pronounced “Wessport”? The “t” is silent! (Kevin McCaul)

My guess: It takes too long to say the first “t.”

And Wessporters are always in a hurry.

 

 

Roundup: Gloria, National History Day …

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Gloria — oysterman Alan Sterling’s beloved boat, which for years after his death has bobbed in Gray’s Creek between Longshore and Owenoke — has run aground.

Several Westporters noticed it yesterday. The years had taken their toll on the wooden vessel. But — defying weather and time — Gloria continued to enthrall everyone who saw it.

Alan was a Westport original. Saw was Gloria.

Her fate now is unknown. (Hat tip: Gene Gavin)

(Photo/Bruce McFadden)

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The last public concert Frederic Chiu played before the world shut down and all his concerts were cancelled was March 5 2020. The internationally famed pianist played a few miles from his home, at The Westport Library for an audience of 400 people.

This Thursday (June 24, 7  p.m.), he return to the Library. It’s his first post-pandemic live concert, once again on the Forum stage.

The program is the 3rd of his 3 Classical Smackdowns. It’s a great format. Chiu pits the music of 2 favorite composers against each other, with the audience voting, interactively, in real-time, round by round.

This one is “Young Geniuses: Mendelssohn vs. Chopin.” It includes music they composed before they were 20. It’s only the second time this program is played, after its premiere in 2020.

The ability to perform live was made only days ago. He’s excited by the chance to have votes from a global audience (virtually) and a live audience.

This is a great opportunity to help Chiu, the Westport Library and Beechwood Arts (series sponsor) celebrate their return to in-person, immersive music experiences!

Tickets are $30. They  provide a “Series Pass,” to see and vote on all 3 Classical Smackdown programs virtually.

To attend in person on Thursday, you must purchase a ticket. If you already have one, you must still register for the entry list.

To attend in person on Jun 24 at The Westport Library, you must register and purchase a ticket. If you’ve already purchased a ticket, you still need to register (for free, using the link above) to be put on the entry list.

To attend the Global Live-stream, click here, To purchase a Series Pass to watch and vote on all 3 Smackdowns at your convenience, click here.

For a sneak peek, click below:

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Staples High School students made history.

At, fittingly, the National History Day national competition.

Honorees included:

  • Zachary Brody, 3rd place, Senior Individual Exhibit
  • Jeffrey Pogue, 4th place, Senior Individual Performance
  • Hannah Fiarman, 6th place, Senior Individual Exhibit
  • Michael Nealon and William Jin, 10th place, Senior Group Exhibit.

Congratulations to all — and to their teachers, Drew Coyne and Neill-Ayn Lynch.

Click below for Jeffrey Pogue’s clever, creative performance, channeling Thomas Paine.

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Speaking of Staples: The high school rugby team returned yesterday from Kansas City. Playing in 100-degree heat, they exceeded expectations: Seeded 5th, they finished 4th, in the 8-team event.

They opened with a 26-22 win over higher-ranked St. Thomas Aquinas, then fell 48-14 to eventual champion Herriman (Utah) 48-14. The dropped the consolation match, 17-14 to Gonzaga (Washington).

Congratulations to coach Dave Lyme and his ruggers on a great run!

The 2021 Staples High School boys rugby team.

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Congratulations to Westport’s newest Eagle Scouts — and #86 and #87 for Boy Scout Troop 100.

For his project,  Benjamin Cohen collaborated with the Mianus Chapter of Trout Unlimited to repair the Norwalk River’s riparian buffer at Schenck’s Island. He removed invasive species, and used native plants to prevent further erosion and decline.

 Jeffrey Pressman worked with Temple Israel to organize materials, books and supplies for classrooms; inventory all materials, to determine needs for supplies; organize High Holiday books; clean and organize the basement to prevent flooding, and build and fix cabinets that hold religious school supplies.

Ben Cohen and Jeffrey Pressman.

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 Old Hill is the site for today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo. Brian Schiller captured a deer, nursing her fawn:

(Photo/Brian Schiller)

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And finally … it’s the first full day of summer.

I could have picked 100 songs with “summer” in the title today. These are 3 that stand out. What are yours? Click “Comments” below.

BONUS TRACK: It doesn’t have “summer” in the title. But it’s hard to find a better summer song than this one:

 

Pic Of The Day #846

Gloria — the late Alan Sterling’s oyster boat — still sits in Gray’s Creek. (Photo/Jerry Kuyper)

Pic Of The Day #260

The late Alan Sterling’s oyster boat, frozen in time. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Pic Of The Day #125

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

Pic Of The Day #78

Today is the 3rd anniversary of Alan Sterling’s death. His oyster boat, “Gloria,” still sits in Gray’s Creek by the Longshore exit road. (Photo/John Kantor)

Glorious Gloria

In the 2 1/2 years since Alan Sterling died, “Gloria” — his beloved oyster boat — has sat forlornly in Gray’s Creek.

But on Sunday, alert “06880” reader/Renaissance man/photographer Jaime Bairaktaris noticed something:

She shined brightly. With Christmas lights.

Intrigued, he took a photo. But it didn’t show “Gloria” in all her glory.

Last night, Jaime returned to the inlet, between Compo Beach Road and Longshore. He hoped the lights would be on again.

They were. He snapped these gorgeous photos:

gloria-christmas-lights-jaime-bairaktaris

(Photos/Jaime Bairaktaris)

(Photos/Jaime Bairaktaris)

Jaime has no clue who strung the lights, and turns them on at night. He asked if I know.

I don’t.

It’s better that way. Just call it Alan Sterling’s Christmas miracle.

Hanne Jeppesen And Westport’s “Big Chill”

We all come to Westport in different ways.

Some of us are born here. Others are brought here by parents, spouses or work. We come here wonderingly, wanderingly, willingly or by whimsy.

Hanne Jeppesen arrived as an au pair.

She grew up safe and secure, in a small town 30 miles south of Copenhagen. Wanderlust took her to a kibbutz in Israel, to Iceland, to a hitchhiking tour of England, France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Holland.

Then a chance glance at a newspaper ad changed Hanne’s life.

Instead of heading to a Danish teacher’s college, she decided to become an American au pair. She knew nothing about Westport — her destination — other than that it was near New York City.

That was enough. She arrived on December 28, 1966, ready for adventure.

Hanne Jeppesen in 1968, as a Westport au pair...

Hanne Jeppesen in 1968, as a Westport au pair…

Life in the suburbs was lonely at first. But she met a German au pair. Hanne took a night school English class at Staples, where she met a “real live wire” Dutch girl. Fifty years later, they’re still friends.

Hanne started going out. The Ship’s Lantern bar downtown was a popular destination. So was the beach.

Westporters were very friendly. Hanne dated a few men. She had a wonderful time. Life was good.

“We drove around in a Corvette, with the top down,” she recalls. “This is what I dreamed America would be like.”

In October of 1968 she returned to Denmark. But her parents encouraged her to live the life she wanted, and 2 months later Hanne was back in Westport. She and  her Dutch friend rented a house here.

Soon, though they moved to New York  City. New adventures beckoned.

...and in New York, a year later.

…and in New York, a year later.

From time to time, Hanne and her friend returned to Westport to visit. Once, at Compo, she met a married man. He invited her to a party that night. And he gave her the keys to his car, in case she wanted to drive around and have fun.

In New York she met a man. They got married, moved first to New Orleans and then San Francisco. They divorced. She had a daughter, and a career in insurance. Now — still living in the Bay Area — Hanne works at Macy’s.

She stayed in touch with a few friends. She always thought fondly of Westport. But except for a couple of visits — the last was in 1998 — Hanne has not spent any time here.

A few years ago though, she saw news online about Jeff Simon. That’s a common name, but it was the same guy she’d dated in Westport. She was intrigued to learn about his life as a photographer and video director.

Then she stumbled on a story about Tracy Sugarman. She’d known his son.

Finding “06880” — including a story about her old friends Alan Sterling and Steve Emmett — helped her reconnect with Westport. She doesn’t know many of the people I write about, but photos and references to the past bring smiles to her face.

Hanne Jeppesen with Jeff Simon, at Compo Beach.

Hanne Jeppesen with Jeff Simon, at Compo Beach.

Living here during a very lively time in Westport and America’s history was wonderful, Hanne says. And she was exactly the right age to enjoy it.

“We did what we were supposed to do in our early 20s,” she explains. “We partied, at people’s houses and the beach. We went to Port Chester, because the bars stayed open later. We had a great group.”

While she lived here, Hanne kept a journal. It was stashed away for years. But after seeing the movie “The Big Chill,” she looked at it. Reading about her time here, and her close-knit friends, she felt a surge of familiarity.

Of course, a movie is not real life.

But Hanna Jeppesen loves the story line that Westport provided to hers.

Hanne Jeppesen, Christmas 2014.

Hanne Jeppesen, Christmas 2014.

Gloria Drifts Away

For years, “Gloria” was a glorious sight.

Alan Sterling built the wooden oyster boat himself. He named it after an old girlfriend, and took it oystering on 150 acres of beds, between Compo Beach and Cockenoe Island. It was a tough job, but Alan — a Staples grad — loved it from the day he began, in 1964.

Alan moored Gloria in Gray’s Creek, between Compo Beach Road and the Longshore exit. Some winters, he lived on the boat. It was cold — but it was home.

On July 4, 2014, Alan died of a massive heart attack.

Since then, Gloria has just kind of drifted. She was Alan’s baby, and now he’s gone.

The other day, “06880” reader Bruce McFadden spotted Gloria abandoned, on the Gray’s Creek shore.

Gloria, on the Gray's Creek shore. (Photo/Bruce McFadden)

Gloria, on the Gray’s Creek shore. (Photo/Bruce McFadden)

He wonders if anyone has plans for the boat. The Honda outboard has value. Perhaps, he says, funds from its sale could be used to place a plaque or bench at Longshore’s E.R. Strait Marina, honoring one of Westport’s last commercial fishermen.

“Gloria,” As You’ve Never Heard It Before

In 2008, the wife of Chris Bousquet’s friend died suddenly. He realized how quickly someone’s world can fall apart, and wondered how anyone can move on after such a tragedy.

Chris Bousquet

Chris Bousquet

The singer-songwriter — he led High Lonesome Plains, and has performed with Roger McGuinn, John Sebastian, Asleep at the Wheel, the Nields, the Turtles and J. Geils — started to write a song about all that.

It didn’t go anywhere. “I was maybe too close to it,” he says. “Or maybe it was not really my song to write.”

A couple of months later, he read about Westport oysterman Alan Sterling, and his boat Gloria (named for an old girlfriend). Bousquet calls it “a profoundly moving story of grief, continual struggle, and the simple triumph of carrying on.”

Having grown up in Clinton, Connecticut, Bousquet always found the sea to be “ethereal and transcendent.” Staring out at the water, he believes in the interconnectedness of all things. So when Sterling noted in the story that a gull might be Gloria watching over him, Bousquet understood.

Gloria (Photo/John Kantor)

Gloria (Photo/John Kantor)

The sea can be warm and caressing, but also brutal. “Alan was well aware of the cold and raw, but it didn’t blind him to the beauty,” Bousquet says. Inspired, he reworked his old song into a new one: “Gloria.”

Bousquet never met Sterling in person. He thought about sharing the song with him, but felt it was presumptuous. Sterling died last July 4. Now, Bousquet wishes he had told the oysterman what an inspiration he’d been.

“He made me appreciate my life — and my wife! — even more,” Bousquet says. “I don’t mean to sound trite. But he reminded me to head out on my proverbial boat, and sail on each day.”

Alan Sterling culling his oysters.

Alan Sterling culling his oysters.

The song was supposed to be part of a compilation CD a few years back. It didn’t happen. But it’s one of his most popular songs during his live performances. Bousquet cherishes the connections “Gloria” allows him to make with audiences.

Now, Bousquet has re-recorded it. It will be on an EP to be released this spring.

But, he says, if any of Alan’s friends want to do something with it, he’ll be glad to help.

“The best songs are the ones that feel like they came from some place outside myself,” Bousquet says. “Like in some sense that gull came down to guide me too — and lead me home.”

(Click here to listen to Chris Bousquet’s haunting song “Gloria.”)