Tag Archives: Brook Cafe

Roundup: Homeless, Speed, The Brook …

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A Westporter who asked for anonymity writes:

“Yesterday I saw 2 people that I believe are homeless.

“One was asking for money in front of Fresh Market. After I gave him some, he showed me his injuries from overseas military assignments. I then stayed in my car watching, as many Westporters passed him by.

“The second individual I saw yesterday morning walking in Southport towards Westport (see photo).

“I wonder: What is Westport doing to help these people?”

Walking toward Westport.

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“06880” readers know Caryl Beatus for her insightful comments, on a broad range of subjects.

The Longshore Ladies Golf Association know her as a friend.

On August 31, they’ll celebrate 60 years of existence with a luncheon. (A year late, because of COVID. Good things come to those who wait.)

Caryl — an original member, when the organization was formed in 1960 — is an important part of those 60 years.

In 2017, the LWGA recognized her service by naming its annual member/member tournament after her.

Caryl has served the LWGA in many capacities. She oversaw the creation and revision of its by-laws, was tournament chair, and for many years organized biannual luncheons.

She has put in countless hours, and always made herself available to help move the organization forward.

Patty Kondub, a past president and coach of the Staples girls golf team, says that a decade ago, when she and Caryl were both injured, Caryl convinced her to serve with her as a “co-hostess.” Every week early in the morning they greeted members, explained the tournament, and introduced players to each other to build camaraderie.

Patty notes that Caryl is a “good luck charm.” Many LWGA members have shot their best rounds while playing with Caryl in their Tuesday tournaments.

Congrats to the LWGA for 60 (61) years — and to Caryl Beatus for all she has one, during those 6 decades.

Caryl Beatus (right) and Anne Krygier, enjoying another day on the links.

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Longtime Westporter — and North Avenue-area resident — Carl Addison Swanson shares an email he sent to 1st Selectman Jim Marpe:

“Last year, over 100 children died and another 25,000 were injured on their way to school.

“In Westport, where I grew up and have been associated with this town since 1952, North Avenue is used as a commuter route for those living in Easton, Weston, Wilton, Fairfield and Southport. Drivers drive too fast. A recent study, using a radar gun, clocked 72% of drivers exceeding 45 m.p.h. on the road.

“What makes this issue more critical is that 4 schools are situated on North Avenue: Coleytown Middle, Coleytown Elementary, Bedford Middle and Staples High School. And while a traffic guard is used to direct traffic, they are not there when, many times, children cross before and/or after school hours due to sports or extracurricular activities. Further, many adults use these crossways to take a walk or bike ride at odd hours.

“I have written to the Westport Police Chief with return comments such as we do not use traffic lights to control traffic,’ and the placement of little green men cones (as seen on Riverside and downtown) are too expensive. Really?

“In every other jurisdiction I have lived in, from Texas to Vermont, the state and town protects their children by blinking lights, a speed limit of 5 mph during peak times, and strict enforcement by the local police on each and every school.

“For a town that bases its importance on the education of their youth, you seem to yield to the flow of traffic rather than the safety of our residents?  A grassroots effort by concerned Westporters to change this is now being organized.”

Carl Addison Swanson would like to see — at the minimum — signs like these near our schools.

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Speaking of school:

Tracy Porosoff spotted this near Shake Shack.

“Am I the only one confused?” she asks.

No.

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

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A limited number of complimentary tickets are available for first responders, frontline workers, teachers, and community groups to attend “Stars on Stage from Westport Country Playhouse.”

The 3 nights of concerts by Broadway artists Shoshana Bean (Wicked, Waitress), Gavin Creel (Hello, Dolly!, The Book of Mormon) and Brandon Victor Dixon (NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar, Hamilton) will be taped August 31 through September 2, for a future national television broadcast. There are 2 shows each night: 7 and 9 p.m.

For complimentary tickets, Jennifer Carroll: jcarroll@westportplayhouse.org.

The public can buy tickets, starting at $20. Click here for more information.

Gavin Creel

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A former Westporter used to frequent the Brook Café with a friend. For his birthday, she wants to give him some memorabilia — perhaps a box of matches, glass or napkin with the bar’s name on it.

If anyone has any souvenirs from “the Brook,” please email me directly: dwoog@optonline.net. I’ll connect you with our reader.

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The transfer station will be closed to residents next Wednesday (August 25) for repairs. It will be open though for private residential and commercial haulers.

Transfer station will be closed Wednesday. (Photos/Ernie Lorimer)

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Upcoming Westport Library events  of note:

Food and travel writer Alexander Lobrano — a Weston High graduate, and former Westporter — sits for a conversation with Kelle Ruden on August 31 (7 p.m.),

Lobrano’s memoir, My Place At the Table: A Recipe for a Delicious Life in Paris is a moving coming-of-age story. Through a series of encounters with culinary figures like Paul Bocuse, Julia Child and Ruth Reichl, Lobrano hones his palate and finds his voice.

Click here to join via livestream or in person. Copies of My Place At the Table are available for ordering and pickup at the Library, or shipping if further away.

Author/essayinst/memoir writer Mary-Lou Weisman hosts :Introductory Memoir Writing Workshops” this fall. They are on Mondays, from September 20 through October 25 (12:30 to 2:30 pm). Click here for more information, and to register.

Alexander Lobrano (Photo/Steven Rothfeld)

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Ken Yormark boasts, “I got 2 eagles at Longshore.”

Congratulations! But he’s not referring to his golf game. He means — with a smile — this “Westport … Naturally” at the town club.

At any rate, it’s a nice “shot” of a couple of “birdies.”

(Photo/Ken Yormark)

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And finally … following up on the eagles above, and the feeling it evokes:

Friday Flashback #197

June is Gay Pride Month. Which means it’s a great time to look back — with pride — on the decades when our little suburb was home to a gay bar.

And not just any gay bar. But the oldest continually operating gay bar in the country.

Today the Brook Cafe has been replaced Patio.com. Almost exactly 10 years ago — on June 10, 2010 — I wrote this:


Once upon a time, Westport had both a gay bar and a strip club.

Right next to each other.

The gay bar was The Brook. It sat on the Post Road near the Exit 18 connector — directly across from the state police barracks.

The strip club — Krazy Vin’s — was next door, directly across Cedar Road.

Today the state police barracks is Walgreens. Krazy Vin’s is Starbucks [and now, Earth Animal].

The Brook — now called the Cedar Brook — is still there. The gay bar outlasted them all.

But it won’t last much longer. A closing party is set for June 26.

The building has been sold. The new rent is out of bar owner Clem Bellairs’ reach.

I’m sure whoever owns it will tear it down. It’s a ramshackle old building — scary, almost — and whatever is erected there will be much more profitable than a gay bar. (I don’t pray often, but please God, don’t let it be a bank.)

Before it goes, let’s pay our respects to a bit of Westport lore — and, believe it or not, a nationally historic place.

At 71 years old, the Cedar Brook has been called the oldest continually operating gay bar in the United States. (The former record holder, it’s said, was in New Orleans — and demolished by Katrina.)

For 7 decades, every gay boy growing up in Westport has told the same story.  Knowing there was a gay bar right down the street created both tremendous excitement (there are people like me!) and abject fear (what if someone sees me looking at it?). Wondering who — and what — lurked behind those ramshackle walls consumed gay teenagers. (Straight kids wondered too.)

One summer in the 1970s, a college friend visited. To show off my town, I decided to take her to every bar from the Norwalk line to Fairfield.

(Note to young readers: Yes, Westport had many bars. Still, don’t try this today. The world was a different place then.)

These trees — at the intersection of aptly named Cedar Road and the Post Road — were cut down to make way for Patio.com.

By the time we made it to the Brook, it was 1 a.m. The place was packed. The music was loud; the dance floor looked amazing. This was my chance to finally get inside!

A bouncer blocked the way.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “You’re fine” — he pointed at me — “but the lady can’t enter.”

What?

“The lady cannot come in,” he replied. “This is a gay bar.”

So we went next door, to Krazy Vin’s.

The view from what is now Earth Animal.

Like an aging drag queen, the Cedar Brook is now past its prime. Crowds are down; even the traditionally huge Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving party — when newly out college guys discovered with glee who else had recently come out — lost its luster in recent years.

The crowd became mixed — lesbians “integrated” the Cedar Brook in the ’80s, and a few straight people (drawn by the powerful sound system and large dance floor) followed.

But it was hard to sustain a gay club in suburban Fairfield County in the 2000s.

Times change. Westport no longer has a police barracks — or a strip club.

Soon it will no longer have a gay bar, either.

The disco ball will spin for the last time.

The bartenders will put on their shirts.

And some other place, somewhere, will say with pride: “We’re the oldest continually operating gay bar in America.”

The Brook Lives!

Amid all the political signs at the Greens Farms railroad station (though there’s a remarkable paucity for the presidential candidates*) — one stood out Sunday for Oliva Schoen.

brook-1

(Photo/Oliva Schoen)

Then she saw a few more nearby.

And one on the Post Road.

If you’re wondering: They’re true. The Brook — aka as the Brook Cafe, and the Cedar Brook — was said to be the oldest continually operating gay bar in America, when it closed 6 years ago.

It was located on the Post Road near the Sherwood Island Connector — right across from what were then state police barracks. (It’s Walgreens today.)

There’s no word on whether SEWHIP (“so hip”) — Society to Expose Westport’s Historically Important Past — will put up a sign recalling Krazy Vin’s. That’s the strip joint that operated where Starbucks is today. You know — directly oppposite the Brook.

Those were some days!

(Want to know more about Westport’s gay bar? Click here.)

*Go figure

Mourning 2 Sycamores

Trees falling in forests may or may not make sounds.

Those chopped down on the Post Road definitely create noise.

Two alert “06880” readers emailed me about the 2 big sycamores felled this week at the site of the former Brook Cafe, across Cedar Road from Starbucks.

Brook 2

Jo Ann Davidson — who took these pictures — wrote:

Nobody was there to ask about it. Could they have been planted by the Beautification Committee years ago? Do we have a tree warden anymore?

The Post Road landscaping distinguishes our section from neighboring towns. Big trees cool all that pavement. I am sad to see 2 of them disappear.

I’m not sure if they were part of the 1970s-era Post Road beautification project — an effort that continues to bear fruit. We do have a tree warden, but he is very part-time. And he does not live in Westport.

Brook 1

Another alert reader wrote:

Who makes a decision like this? Who paid for the cutting? Weren’t the trees within 10 feet of the road? If so, didn’t it need to be approved by the town? Don’t the Green Task Force, Tree Board or Beautification Committee get involved with a decision like this? These were extremely healthy trees and balanced the corner nicely with those in front of Starbucks.  It is outrageous that the trees were taken down to leave yet another barren landscape.

When the town put sewers on that stretch of road, they removed 2 trees from in front of Sherwood Diner. The town never replaced them.

When I asked the diner owner about the tree removal, he lamented that his electric bills for AC had sky-rocketed during the summer months.  Yet there still are no trees in front of Sherwood.

It is such a simple thing to help make Westport a beautiful place.  It starts with not removing healthy trees and greenery.

Brook 3

The Brook Bites The Dust

Once upon a time, Westport had both a gay bar and a strip club.

Right next to each other.

The gay bar was The Brook.  It sat on the Post Road near the Exit 18 connector — directly across from the state police barracks.

The strip club — Krazy Vin’s — was next door, directly across Cedar Road.

Today the state police barracks is Walgreens.  Krazy Vin’s is Starbucks.

The Brook — now called the Cedar Brook — is still there.  The gay bar outlasted them all.

But it won’t last much longer.  A closing party is set for June 26.

The building has been sold.  The new rent is out of bar owner Clem Bellairs’ reach.

I’m sure whoever owns it will tear it down.  It’s a ramshackle old building — scary, almost — and whatever is erected there will be much more profitable than a gay bar.  (I don’t pray often, but please God, don’t let it be a bank.)

Before it goes, let’s pay our respects to a bit of Westport lore — and, believe it or not, a nationally historic place.

At 71 years old, the Cedar Brook has been called the oldest continually operating gay bar in the United States.  (The former record holder, it’s said, was in New Orleans — and demolished by Katrina.)

For 7 decades, every gay boy growing up in Westport has told the same story.  Knowing there was a gay bar right down the street created both tremendous excitement (there are people like me!) and abject fear (what if someone sees me looking at it?). Wondering who — and what — lurked behind those ramshackle walls consumed gay teenagers.  (Straight kids wondered too.)

One summer in the 1970s, a college friend visited.  To show off my town, I decided to take her to every bar from the Norwalk line to Fairfield.

(Note to young readers:  Yes, Westport had many bars.  Still, don’t try this today.  The world was a different place then.)

By the time we made it to the Brook, it was 1 a.m.  The place was packed.  The music was loud; the dance floor looked amazing.  This was my chance to finally get inside!

A bouncer blocked the way.

“I’m sorry,” he said.  “You’re fine” — he pointed at me — “but the lady can’t enter.”

What?

“The lady cannot come in,” he replied.  “This is a gay bar.”

So we went next door, to Krazy Vin’s.

The view from Starbucks.

Like an aging drag queen, the Cedar Brook is now past its prime.  Crowds are down; even the traditionally huge Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving party — when newly out college guys discovered with glee who else had recently come out — lost its luster in recent years.

The crowd became mixed — lesbians “integrated” the Cedar Brook in the ’80s, and a few straight people (drawn by the powerful sound system and large dance floor) followed.

But it was hard to sustain a gay club in suburban Fairfield County in the 2000s.

Times change.  Westport no longer has a police barracks — or a strip club.

Soon it will no longer have a gay bar, either.

The disco ball will spin for the last time.

The bartenders will put on their shirts.

And some other place, somewhere, will say with pride:  “We’re the oldest continually operating gay bar in America.”