Tag Archives: Black Duck

Remembering “Wolfie”

Mike Connors — for 30 years one of Westport’s best-known bartenders, at the Black Duck, then at Bogey’s and most recently at Partner’s Cafe, both in Norwalk — died this morning.

Connors — universally called “Wolfie” — apparently suffered a heart attack.

mike-connors-2

It took a lot to take down Wolfie. He graduated from Staples High School in 1978, where he had a storied football career. He went on to play at Syracuse University, then returned home and served as an assistant coach at his alma mater.

Wolfie was the perfect bartender. He knew everyone, welcomed everyone, talked to everyone. Though he worked for the past couple of years one town over, and lived in Stratford, his big heart was always in Westport.

Details on services have not yet been announced.

Mike "Wolfie" Connors

Mike “Wolfie” Connors

A Ducky Sunset

On Friday evening, traffic was probably heavy on I-95.

Folks at the Black Duck probably did not care.

Alert “06880” photographer Andrew Colabella captured this unique shot of both.

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Extras! Extras! Needed At The Duck!

John Francis Sullivan is a Westport native, Staples grad, and Los Angeles filmmaker. His next project is “Taste of Life” — a romantic comedy about a single dad who meets online dates at the same comedy club/cabaret/restaurant.

On Thursday, he needs a few extras for a scene he’s shooting.

Okay — full disclosure: The scene is part of his crowd-sourcing fundraising on Indiegogo.

Still, it’s a chance to kinda/sorta be in a movie. Plus, it’s at the Black Duck — and Sullivan is offering a free drink or two.

If you’re interested, head to the Duck this Thursday (July 9) at 6 p.m. Look for the cameras. Sullivan will take it from there.

Action!

You can be a star!

You can be a star!

 

The Duck As You’ve Never Seen It Before

You can count on a lot of things at the Black Duck: Great wings. A down-home vibe. Sports on TV.

Almost always, that means men’s sports.

But tonight the TVs were tuned to the Women’s World Cup semifinal.

When Carli Lloyd stepped up to take a penalty kick late in the scoreless match, everyone — including the bartenders and wait staff — stopped to watch.

Black Duck - Women's World Cup

She nailed it. The US added an insurance goal, to beat Germany 2-0.

We play England or Japan on Sunday.

You know at least one place to watch the championship game.

Black Dog, Black Duck

Do you know about Black Dog Syndrome?

It’s when black dogs are passed over for adoption, in favor of lighter ones. Black dogs are said to be put down more often in the South, a combination of superstition and residual racism.

I’d never heard of it. Nor had Amy Scarella. But after the 1994 Staples graduate began an animal rescue effort a few years ago, she did.

“Pretty twisted,” she calls it. So she made black dogs her “pet” project.

Little Black Dog Rescue is an outgrowth of her “Bark Camp” doggie play group, which morphed into a dog-walking business, which became a full-time gig.

Amy Scarella, and one of her black dogs.

Amy Scarella, and one of her black dogs.

Working with Westport Animal Shelter Advocates and the Animal Center in Newtown, Amy learned about unwanted dogs brought north for adoption. Then she saw other dogs on Facebook. One — with 150 flea bites — had been abandoned.

She arranged to transport it here. It would cost $600 to fix its leg, so she started her own rescue organization.

Soon, she was working with 1 or 2 black dogs at a time. One had a litter of 9 puppies, which she placed in Westport, Fairfield and Norwalk homes.

Little Black Dog Rescue was privately funded. Recently, it received 501(c)(3) status. Now Amy can apply for grants, and donors earn tax deductions.

She’s also planning her 1st real fundraiser. It’s at the Black Duck next Thursday (February 5, 6-8 pm). There’s an open bar, appetizers, silent auction, live music, and a slide show of doggy success stories.

Two days later (Saturday, February 7), 8 dogs will be featured at the Natural Pet Outlet in Black Rock. They’re available for pre-approval.

Storm is ready for adoption. He was left in an apartment in Bridgeport to fend for himself this winter.. He may be a mastiff/bully breed mix and is gentle and quiet. He is great with other dogs and knows basic commands.

Storm is ready for adoption. He may be a mastiff/bully breed mix. He is gentle, quiet, great with other dogs, and knows basic commands.

“I don’t do same-day adoptions,” Amy says. “I pride myself on matching dogs and families very well.”

She is passionate about her work. “All of these are ‘last-chance’ dogs,” she says. “If you can take a dog just for a day, you’ll see how great they are. They’re not wild; they’re sweet. And every black dog we save opens up space for another one.”

She has many helpers. Earth Animal supplies food. Greenfield Grooming cuts all the dogs, gratis. Pete Aitkin at the Duck has been “very generous.”

Amy also lauds her youth volunteers. Some are as young as 8 years.

Over the past 18 months, Amy has placed more than 70 dogs. One went to a family with 3 autistic sons. The animal was very energetic, but had not played well with other dogs.

It turned out to be a perfect fit. The 11-year-old son wrote Amy, thanking her for saving the dog and bringing him “my best friend.”

Kids love Amy's dogs.

Kids love Amy’s dogs.

Another dog — in a shelter for 6 months — was adopted by a Weston priest at St. Francis of Assisi. (“He’s the patron saint of animals,” Amy notes with wonder.) That dog is beloved by all the pre-school children there.

Rescuing animals is not all that Amy does. She still has her dog walking business (for all colors), and she works for a clothing line.

But Little Black Dog Rescue is her labor of love. Next Thursday, we all can share her love for dogs.

At the Duck.

(Tickets for the fundraiser are $30 in advance, $35 at the door. Order by PayPal, using this email address: lbdrescue@gmail.com)

 

 

 

Pete Aitkin Buys A New Black Duck

If you know the Black Duck — and who doesn’t? — you know the popular riverfront barge/bar/restaurant/hangout shares a name with the Black Duck racing boat.

Owner Pete Aitkin just received his latest toy: a custom-built 30-foot twin 300-horse Merc speedboat.

Last night, the Duck docked at the Duck.

This morning, Pete pulled it out of the water at Compo. He’ll store it till next year.

The Black Duck, with Pete Aitken at the helm.

The Black Duck, with Pete Aitkin at the helm.

The Black Duck — food version — put Westport on the “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” map.

The maritime Black Duck did the same for offshore boat racing.

Tutti’s, Tarantino’s, Tarry Lodge: Top that!

(Hat tip: Randy Chiristophersen)

Duck! The Hulk! The Sequel

Alert “06880” reader Jean Paul Vellotti fills in the back story from yesterday’s post on the sunken vessel spotted in the mud at low tide, just south of the Bridge Street Bridge:

The hulk below the blue bridge is the Mary E., which was an onion schooner and the last ship built in Westport. You can tell it’s a ship and not a barge because the centerboard housing is visible. It would be possible to see who owned/built this vessel with some research; a fairly easy task since it would have been involved in the “coasting trade” and therefore taxed yearly on revenue. Point being, it would have been given a number and records would have been kept. Generally, a hulk is a floating ship that is unable to sail but still has some function. During the wars in the days of sail, captured vessels were often referred to as hulks and used for prison ships.

The best story I heard about how it came to rest in the mud is that an local old oyster pirate named Ford “40” Macheskie (might have that last name a little botched), brought it up-river and  tied it ashore. The owner of the property kept saying move it, move it, and Ford never would. Eventually, he threw three sticks of dynamite in the hold and it sank. Then he told the owner it’s stuck in the mud and walked away.

Ford is long gone, but that story was told by him to someone I know.

PS: Re the Black Duck, what irony to list it on Westport’s historic register. You know, if that happened, there could be no changes to the exterior without the Historic District Commission’s approval. Putting it on the register could actually preserve its un-preserved condition.

The Black Duck. (Photo by John Kantor)

The Black Duck. (Photo by John Kantor)

Duck!

In the wake of our most recent snowstorm — for some reason, it had no name — alert “06880” reader Howard Silver took this photo of one of Westport’s most beloved institutions:

Black Duck

And, he wondered, “how does the Black Duck stay on land?”

Coincidentally, Mary Palmieri Gai posted on Facebook’s “You Know You’re From Westport … If …” page yesterday. It’s from a 1910 Norwalk Hour story:

DESTROY THAT OLD HULK: There was talk sometime ago regarding the destroying of the old Hulk south of Saugatuck carriage bridge but yet nothing has been done about the matter by the selectmen. Since it was understood that the promise to do away with this unsightly blot on the third page of Westport’s beauty, many citizens are wondering why they have not made good on the promises.

The expense would not be great and there is no question but that the outlay that would be necessary to do away with this old hulk would be money well spent.

So the citizens of the town are hoping that the officials do something immediately toward improving the appearance of the scene south of the Saugatuck Bridge by destroying the old time boat that has rested on the mud flats at that point for a great many years.

A lively debate followed. Some folks thought the story referred to the Duck. But, owner Pete Aitken said, the restaurant — originally a barge — was not hauled there until 1961.

Perhaps the “old Hulk” is the vessel mired in mud immediately south of the Bridge Street bridge — visible only (but always) at low tide.

As for Howard Silver’s question of how the restaurant survives?

That’s just more proof that everyone loves the Duck.

Including God.

The Duck survived Hurricane Sandy too.

The Duck survived Hurricane Sandy too.

Ho Ho Ho! They’ll Drink To That!

Seventy or so Santa Clauses — and a few random Mrs. Clauses, elves and Grinches — descended on Saugatuck Center this afternoon.

They drank, ate and ambled their way — no sleighs allowed, not after all that beer! — from Dunville’s to the Whelk, then Viva’s, Rizzuto’s and the Duck. Dessert was at Saugatuck Sweets.

The price to party: $100. Plus, you had wear a costume. There were some very serious Santas today.

It was all for a great cause: Adam’s Camp, a special summer spot for children with special needs.

Everywhere the merry group went, traffic stopped. It was as if no one has ever seen 70 Santas drinking their way through Saugatuck before.

Kelly and Drew Schuette, who organized this afternoon's Santa pub crawl.

Kelley and Drew Schuette, who organized this afternoon’s Santa pub crawl. More shots are below.

Santa - 2

Santa - 3

Santa - 4

Santa - 5

Nearly everyone made it to the plaza outside the Whelk for a group shot. A few were still inside, enjoying their beers and oysters.

Nearly everyone made it to the plaza outside the Whelk for a group shot. A few were still inside, enjoying their beers and oysters.

Welcome Home!

Nothing says “Westport” more than the Black Duck.

The Duck — site of numerous Westport Little League all-star-watching parties this summer — hosted the team when they (finally!) returned home tonight.

Westport Little league - Black Duck

Photo by Rob Stone

The boys have been on the road for weeks: first Bristol for the state and New England championships, then Williamsport for the Little League World Series.

They come back to earth — and go back to school — Tuesday.

But first — at 5 p.m. tomorrow (Monday) — there’s a parade down Main Street.

Just your usual hometown event. With the governor, at least one US senator, and our congressman.

Welcome back, boys!