Tag Archives: Black Duck Cafe

Black Duck Mystery: Solved!

Last Sunday’s “06880” lead story described a mystery. Whatever happened, reader Scott Smith wondered, to the photo of 2 bikini-clad young women, that hung for years in the Black Duck’s men’s room?

Readers filled the Comments section with theories, guesses and “facts.” 

Pete Aitkin knows for sure.

The longtime owner of the Duck now lives in Lake Luzerne, New York.

But he still reads “06880” regularly. Yesterday, he checked in from that Adirondacks town with this definitive answer:

Indeed, the picture features 2 of the Black Duck’s original waitresses/ bartenders.

The blonde is Mary Scully. The brunette is Joyce Pettit.

Mary was the first girl I ever hired at the Duck — around February 1978, 2 months before we opened on April 4. Joyce came aboard a little while later.

One of our early bartenders was Staples wrestling legend Phil Kopp (Class of 1972). Mary and Phil began dating.

They left the Duck to open their own bar, the Rainbow Beach Club, on Green Turtle Cay in the Bahamas. That’s where the picture was taken, about 1981.

Sadly, the Rainbow Bar was destroyed by a hurricane around 1983.

Their picture (my favorite) was one of several featuring pretty girls I hung in the men’s room. While I did my best to deter theft by nailing and/or screwing them to the walls, several were stolen. I suspect they ended up on the walls of a college dorm somewhere.

However, Mary and Joyce’s picture was not stolen — unless you want to call me a thief.

Upon my “retirement” from the Black Duck last November, I moved to upstate New York. I couldn’t bear to leave Mary and Joyce behind.

So I brought the picture with me. My wife (Lynda Pianka, Staples Class of 1970) will not let me hang it in our living room. I hope to build a “man cave” soon, so I can once again display it.

Mary returned to Westport, and married lucky fellow Westporter Brad French. I believe she now lives in the Detroit area. Joyce lives in Pennsylvania with her dog, Charleigh Grace.

They were 2 wonderful and popular girls who held the Black Duck get started on its 45-year run.

Thanks, Pete! Generations of Westport males can now rest easy.

The Black Duck was named for Pete Aitkin’s boat. Here he is, at the helm.

(“06880” always follows up on important stories. We hope readers follow up too, by supporting Westport’s hyper-local blog. Please click here — and thank you!)

Westport History, Black Duck Mystery

Alert — and history-minded — “06880” reader Scott Smith writes about many subjects.

The environment, Long Island Sound, Longshore — they’re all subjects for his wide-ranging interests. Today he tackles something a tad bit different. Scott writes:

You never know where you’re going to come across Westport history. Let me share a favorite piece of 06880 memorabilia, though it may appeal to only those who frequent the Black Duck Café — and even then only to a particular subset of customer.

I stopped by the Duck recently. It was ages since I had a Big Top Burger stuffed with bleu cheese — a specialty of the house long hailed as Westport’s best dive.

A Westport favorite, for decades. (Photo/Chou Chou Merrill)

The burger was delicious, just as I remembered. But one thing was missing, I realized, after a trip across the slanted floorboards to the men’s restroom.

Gone from the wall to the right of the sink was a framed photo I noticed upon my first visit to the Duck more than 25 years ago. Guys, you know which one I’m talking about: a grainy color print of 2 young women arm in arm in the tropical surf, wearing big smiles, matching Black Duck Café t-shirts and teeny-weeny black bikini bottoms. It was the original wet t-shirt pic, or at least Westport’s iconic version of the genre.

I always figured the photo was from the 1970s, perhaps of 2 bartender friends. The water looks tropical. A snapshot of beach babes on spring break in Florida?

Back at the bar, I asked the bartender: “Hey, what happened to that photo in the men’s room. You know, the one…?”

“Two young guys took it,” she said, anger mixed with disdain. “Brothers. We know it was them because you could see in the security video one of them walking out had a big square object hidden under his shirt.”

She said she knew who the 2 kids were and had even called up the older brother, asking for it back. He told her they had left it in Norwalk, on the sidewalk outside a bar, but then it rained and the picture got all wet and yadda yadda yadda.

“Anyway, it’s gone. Must be a year now,” said the bartender. “I mean, why would they do that? The frame was even screwed into the wall. Besides, those girls are old enough to be their grandmothers.”

Just another day at the Duck.

I asked if she had a copy, but she said no, at least not a good one. What I didn’t add is that I was pretty sure I had a photo of the picture, taken years ago.

Don’t ask me why. Perhaps the storyteller in me thought of sending it to “06880,” to see if anyone knew who the 2 omen were and what their story was.

One thing’s for sure: In the years since I first saw that photo, I’ve gotten married, raised a son, grown gray and bald. Old enough to be a grandfather myself. Those 2 women never changed at all though, forever smiling squintingly at the photographer and fetchingly for all the world — or at least a very small part of —to see.

I found the image on my cell phone after scrolling through a thousand photos. Here it is.

The picture on the bathroom wall may be gone, but the mystery remains. Who are the Black Duck girls?

I can only hope they have had wonderful lives. They’ve certainly brightened mine.

(Nothing says “Westport” more than the Black Duck — or “06880.” You can support your hyper-local blog by clicking here. Thank you!)

Friday Flashback #325

Westporters have many options for holiday shopping, and festive meals.

Of course, our retail and restaurant scene is always in flux.

A look at this “board game” from the 1980s shows how much has changed since then.

(Courtesy of Ashley Hemson, via Facebook)

Nearly every business is gone: Remarkable Book Shop. Soup’s On. Daybreak Florist. Max’s Art Supplies. Silver’s. Tacos or What?

But we’ve still got Achorn Pharmacy.

And the Duck.

(If you like traveling down Westport’s memory lane every Friday, please support “06880.” Click here to contribute. Thank you!) 

Roundup: Vote, Vets, Arline Gertzoff …

For the past 2 elections, Mark Yurkiw’s artwork (below) offered a reminder on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge of upcoming votes.

Tomorrow is Election Day. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. To find out where you vote, click here.

Connecticut voters will cast ballots for state legislators, governor and US senator. There’s also a referendum question: Should the state constitution be amended, to give the General Assembly the option to allow early voting?

A “yes” vote on this one seems like a non-partisan no-brainer. Right now, only 4 states — Connecticut, New Hampshire, Alabama and Mississippi — do not permit voting before Election Day.

(Photo/Mark Yurkiw)


Veterans Day is a quasi-holiday. There are a few official closures, but mostly it’s business as usual. Veterans Day.

But if you can, make time this Friday (November 11) for the annual Town Hall ceremony.

The Community Band plays patriotic songs at 10:30 a.m. At 11 a.m. — the time the armistice ending World War I took effect — the program honoring all veterans begins.

Veterans of Foreign War Post 399, American Legion Post 63, town officials, veterans and a Staples High School student speaker will all take part.

Proud veterans at the 2018 ceremony. (Photo copyright/Ted Horowitz)


Four Westport Police Department members were promoted last week to new ranks.

Congratulations to Sergeants Daniel Paz and Howard Simpson, Lieutenant Serenity Dobson and Captain David Wolf.

And thanks, of course, for your service.

The Westport Police Department promotion ceremony. From left: Sgt. Daniel Paz, Sgt. Howard Simpson, Lt. Serenity Dobson, Capt. David Wolf, Deputy Chief Samuel Arciola, First Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Chief Foti Koskinas, Captain Eric Woods. (Photo and hat tip: Andrew Colabella)


Friends and admirers of Arline Gertzoff are invited to a ceremony honoring her life this Saturday (November 12, 2:30 p.m., Town Hall).

The longtime jUNe Day hospitality chair, poll worker, RTM member, Democratic Town Committee activist and proud Staples High School graduate died in September, of esophageal cancer. She was 76.

Arline Gertzoff, at the Grand Canyon.


William “Willie P.” Patterson died last month.

He was well-known in the Westport hospitality family, and a consummate professional. He served for many years at Mario’s, DeRosa’s, Viva Zapata and the Inn at Longshore, among others.

A friend says: “His wry sense of humor, kindness and cheeky smile were just a few of the things we loved about him. Many were lucky enough to know him well and call him a dear friend, but Willie was really a friend to all  he met.”

At his request, there will be no funeral. Instead, friends are invited to celebrate his life on Sunday (November 13, Black Duck Café, noon to 4 p.m.).

Light food will be served, with a cash bar. Friends can bring pictures or stories to share.Digital photos for a slide show can be emailed to williepics2022@gmail.com.

“Willie P” Patterson


Westporters know her as Julie DeLoyd. To her music fans, she is simply Julie Loyd.

By either name, she’s ready to record her 7th album — the first full-length one since 2008.

A lot has happened in that time, and she has 10 songs to share about it. The album goes back to her acoustic roots, with guitar, banjo, cello, upright bass, accordion and more.

“It’s earthy and honest,” Julie says. “I’m sharing stories from own family, about my friends, about love, about ambition.  It’s an album that I couldn’t have written 15 years ago.

She’s funding much of it herself. But she’s started a $10,000 Kickstarter project to help cover studio and producer time, musicians, traveling to Nashville, graphic design and manufacture, and publicity.

Click here for more information, and to contribute.


Ann Chernow has been an important part of Westport’s arts scene for decades.

But she’s not just ours. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, DeJong Musem, National University of Taiwan, el Aviv Museum  Coupozoulos Museum in Athens and many others.

Now she’s got a new website. Click here to see her work. Click below for an intriguing interview, with Miggs Burroughs.


Felice Pagliuso — well known to generations of Compo Barber Shop customers — died Thursday, surrounded by hsis family. The Norwalk resident was 73.

He was born in Calabria, and emigrated from Italy in 1971 with his wife. They began their new life in the US, and started a family.

Felice spent 47 years at Compo Barber Shop. When it closed, he moved nearby to Westport Hair &Co. He took great pride in his work, and earned rewards for his men’s hair styling.

Felice’s happiest role in life was being a grandfather. He found joy in family dinners, walks by the beach and playing Italian cards. He loved classical music and enjoyed going to Italian concerts.

Felice is survived by his wife of 52 years, Palma Torcasio Pagliuso; daughter Giovanna Pagliuso (Alex) Apazidis and son Antonio Pagliuso (fiancée Chrisavgi Sourgoutsis); grandsons Nikolaos and Anthony Felice Apazidis; brother Francesco Pagliuso, and several nieces and nephews. Felice was pre-deceased by his brother Antonio, sister Caterina and nephew Gianfranco Pagliuso.  

Calling hours are today (Monday, November 7, 4 to 8 p.m., Raymond Funeral Home. 5 East Wall Street, Norwalk). A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated tomorrow (Tuesday, November 8, 10 a.m. at St. Philip Church, 1 Father Conlin Place Norwalk. Entombment will follow in St. John’s Cemetery.

Felice Pagliuso


The Westport Library is a hive of activity.

It’s also a literal hive — well, right near it, anyway.

Anne Pfeiffer spotted this the other day. It’s just right for our “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Anne Pfeiffer)


And finally … happy 79th birthday to Joni Mitchell!

Roundup: Yarn Bombing; Coffee Roasting; Black Duck; More

Everyone loves the Yarn Bomber. Now you can learn her secrets.

No, not who she is. Even better: how she does it.

The Yarn Bomber is bringing her talents — decorating trees and street signs in beautiful, uplifting colors — to the masses. She’s created a virtual knitting course, and anyone can join.

For just $50 you get needles, starter yarn, 5 days of instruction (1 hour a day), knitting videos, online tutorials, and a live public socially distanced yarn bomb at a scheduled date. All supplies can be picked up will at Westport Yarns.

The Yarn Bomber can also accommodate custom group sessions for groups (minimum of 6 participants).

Email yarnbalmer@gmail.com for more information.

Yarn bombing at Compo Beach (Photo/Judy Auber Jahnel)

There are plenty of places to buy coffee in Saugtuck, from Dunkin’ to Donut Crazy.

There may soon be one more.

A sign next to Tutti’s — in the storefront occupied briefly by a kombucha bar — advertises ILSE Coffee. It’s the work of 2013 Staples High School graduate Lucas Smith, and Rebecca Grossman.

They started a Kickstarter campaign. Their goal is to open a “dream cafe and marketplace.” The roastery/market will include specialty coffee, pastries, sandwiches, small plates and to-go food, along with wine, beer, cocktails and retail items. They hope to host coffee cuppings, seminars and workshops too.

The goal is $10,000. The deadline is August 1.

As of yesterday though, the Kickstarter drive was $9,999 short.

Lucas Smith, in the Saugatuck space.

Speaking of Saugatuck — here’s the news you’ve all been waiting for:

The Black Duck is back open!

Just in time for summer, all’s right with the world.

(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Uncertain weather today forced a postponement of the Supper & Soul Drive-in/Tailgate Concert. The event — featuring the Tom Petty Project — is now set for Sunday (July 5, 6 p.m.).

Tickets for tonight’s show can be used on the new date. If you can’t make the new date, contact the sponsoring Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce (matthew@westportwestonchamber.com). There’s a wait list for the sold-out show.

During the show, anyone with comments or concerns should call 203-851-2771.

The Chamber and Westport Library will also hold a streaming concert next Sunday (July 11). Part of Supper & Soul, it features the ’80s hair band Mullett. Tickets are $10.80. Click here for details.

In these challenging times, support groups are more important than ever.

But physical distancing and other rules make it challenging for organizations to offer that support.

Positive Directions — the Westport-based prevention and counseling agency — can help. They offer free, weekly virtual support groups for people trying to achieve healthy lifestyles, after battling substance abuse addiction.

There are special sessions too for family members, and young adults. Click here for details.

Kami Evans — who as “Kami’s Kloud” provided tons of Westport information on social media platforms — will move back here with her family in August. She’s been in England since 2018.

Her newest project is working on a global social media campaign, incorporating local artists. Her first video stars Westport’s own Rosie Jon. Born without arms, she paints (beautifully) with her toes.

Rosie’s current project — #WeAreOne — is “so poignant right now,” Kami says.

Click below for Rosie’s video. Click here for links to all of Kami’s platforms.

Westporters Chris and Amy Overman were ready to start a family. Yet at 38, Amy struggled with infertility. For 6 years, the couple tried many treatments.

After 13 failed cycles — including IUI, IVF and stem treatments — Amy read a chapter in her infertility book that many people skip: egg donation.

It’s expensive. But the Overmans received an egg donation. They’re now the proud parents of a son, Ryder.

Two years later, Amy paid it forward. She gave $10,000 to the Norwalk-based Nest Egg Foundation — and called it the  Ryder Grant. Now, someone else can benefit from an egg donation.

The Foundation’s application window for the 2020 fertility grant program runs through July 31. Connecticut and New York residents are eligible.

For more information, including grant application eligibility criteria and how to become a donor, click here

And finally … a fitting tribute to the late John Prine.

Pic Of The Day #1000

Nearly 3 years ago — on April 17, 2017 — “06880” introduced a new feature: Pic of the Day.

Here’s what I wrote:

Let’s give a hearty welcome to the latest member of our online community: the Pic of the Day.

Every night around 9 p.m., I’ll send out an image of Westport. The photos will be recognizable and relatable. Some will be artistic; others whimsical or surprising. One might have cool angles or shapes; the next might make you look at a familiar scene in a different way.

All will be cool. None will be more than a few days old.

There won’t be any text, beyond a caption and photo credit. The plan is to provide a quick snapshot of Westport for you, before bed (or first thing in the morning). [NOTE: That rule is not hard and fast. Sometimes there is text. Like today.]

Any image anywhere in town is fair game. However, I’ll stay away from sunsets. That’s WestportNow’s specialty! [NOTE: I break that rule occasionally too!]

Lynn U. Miller — Westport native, longtime friend and very talented photographer — will provide many of the shots. (She also came up with the superbly punning “Pic of the Day” name.)

But I’ll also rely on a stable of other fine photographers, like John Videler, Amy Schneider and Katherine Bruan.

And you. If you’ve got a photo you think would work for this feature, send it along: dwoog@optonline.net.

So here — without further ado — is “06880”‘s very first Pic of the Day. Enjoy!

The very first Pic of the Day: behind the Black Duck, on the Saugatuck River (Photo copyright Lynn U. Miller)

Hail To The Wreckers: The Sequel

Yesterday — in a post about Staples High School’s sports mascot — I said I was pretty positive there’s no other team in the country with our nickname: the Wreckers.

No one disagreed.

But Pete Aitkin knows of one school that — many years ago — was also the Wreckers.

Key West High.

The owner of the Black Duck is also a noted speedboat racer. He’s been to Key West many times.

Their original “Wreckers” nickname came, he says, from the long-ago practice of stringing fake lights, to lure unsuspecting cargo ships onto reefs. Locals would then swarm the wrecks, and loot them.

A while ago though, they changed their name. Key West High — which sounds like a pretty chill place — is now the home of the Conchs.

The name — and the mascot — do not instill “nearly as much fear in opponents as the mean-looking Wrecker,” Aitkin notes.

The reason for yesterday’s post was the antiquated — but still occasional – use of “Lady Wreckers” when referring to girls teams.

Several commenters wrote that once upon a time, the term was “Wreckerettes.”

Down in Key West, the cheerleaders are still called the “Conchettes.”

That’s not a great sports name. Perhaps, though, Jimmy Buffett could use it for his backup singers.

Pics Of The Day #870

One view of the Duck …

… and another (Photos/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

The Apocalypse Is Here: Black Duck Closes Sunday

Minutes ago, the Black Duck — the legendary Saugatuck dive/burger/karaoke bar — posted this notice on their Facebook page:

It is with a heavy heart that we announce our closing. We’ve had an amazing 40 years here in Saugatuck/Westport… and we are grateful for every friend we’ve had the pleasure to serve and entertain along the way. We will be closed Thu. 11/1, and Fri. 11/2, but we WILL BE OPEN on SAT. 11/3, and SUN. 11/4 – to say good-bye. Let’s go out with a REAL BANG!

Westport will never be the same.

(Photo/Chou Chou Merrill)

(Photo by John Kantor)

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

(Hat tips: Terry Brannigan and Meredith McBride)


Pic Of The Day #187

Behind the Black Duck: a duck (Photo/Mark Ritter)