In the summer of 1955, 7-year-old Westporter Carl Addison Swanson had $12.34 in earnings, from his summer landscaping business.
His father marched him down to Southport Savings — a bank later purchased by People’s — to open a savings account.
Carl had his eye on a new baseball mitt. It did not happen. “Depression parents and all?” he wonders today.
Some 61 years later (and still a People’s Bank client), Swanson learned that an investment firm’s error (someone entered the wrong account number) resulted in the transfer of $28,000 from his checking account, to one of the firm’s clients.
People’s fixed the error relatively quickly (about 2 weeks).
But Swanson’s banking woes were not over.
In mid-August, he put a $10,000 check in his mail box to pay his credit card bill.
It never reached Chase. Instead it ended up in someone’s individual account, in a local TD bank.
The FBI, police, US Postal Service, People’s Bank and The Hartford (homeowner’s) insurance company have all tried to get restitution. It still has not happened.
Swanson — himself an attorney — says, “The banks have gotten too big to fail and to serve their customers. Bigger is not always better.”
Kayak threats from Compo Beach — first reported on “06880” in July — continue.
Mousumi Ghosh is the latest victim. Her red Eddyline Equinox is gone from the storage area. She writes:
“We are devastated. It was one of the few recreations that we were able to enjoy as a family during the last year, not to mention the cost to replace it.
“I was away for a month for a family emergency. It could have happened any time during August.
“From speaking with others, I am discovering that this is not an isolated event. Many believe that crime is on the rise at the beach. Neither the police nor Parks & Rec are hopeful that the kayak can be recovered, or that there is much they can do to help.”
If anyone sees it (the rack emblem is #39), please call Westport Police. Meanwhile, another victim contacted “06880,” suggested security cameras. They’re installed elsewhere at the beach already. Perhaps it’s time to extend their range.
Kayak racks at Compo Beach. They look lovely — but they’re not secure. (Photo/Lauri Weiser)
Among Wednesday night’s Hurricane Ida flood victims: The Toy Post.
The store at 180 Post Road East (near Imperial Avenue) has no flood insurance. They’re offering 50% off anything wet. (Hat tip: Jonathan Alloy)
For many years, the small shop on Maple Avenue South was Mario & Mike’s barber. Then it became Bill’s. After that, Salon Juljen.
Now it’s vacant. A sign says they’ve moved to Southport. No word on whether a new hair place — or some other business — will move in to the mixed commercial-residential building. (Hat tip: Chris Grimm)
A grant from the Drew Friedman Arts Center will help them provide art classes to people with intellectual and developmental differences. The 6-week sessions cover a range of mediums — including photography, watercolor, acrylics, collage, dance, improvisation, acting and more — and engage local artists.
Some have already begun, at One River Art School in Westport.
Artists — including Drew Friedman Arts Center director Miggs Burroughs (far right) and STAR officials.
Speaking of education: Sure, the Westport Public Schools select a Teacher of the Year. But there’s something special about earning that honor from a different source: the Staples High School football team.
This spring, the Wreckers — used to be cheered for — turned the tables. They gave shout-outs to their favorite educators in a homemade video. At the end, they announced the winner.
Who is this year’s football team Staples Teacher of the Year? Click below to see:
Two more sings that Westport is getting “back to business.”
The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce held its first in-person gathering in 20 months yesterday, at Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center. Over 60 people gathered in the garden, in beautiful weather. They shook hands, ate food catered by Calise’s Deli, and — as they did for years before the pandemic — exchanged business cards.
Sal Gilbertie spoke about the 100 years since his grandfather began as a flower grower, then turned to herbs. Today Gilbertie’s is a major micro green seller, in addition to their nursery’s plants and trees.
Sal Gilbertie addresses the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce.
But the Chamber wasn’t the only major Westport organization holding its first live-and-in-person meeting yesterday.
Sunrise Rotary also gathered together, for the first time in over a year. Attendance was solid. Handshakes and hugs were heartfelt.
And for those unable or not yet ready to attend, the event was livestreamed.
Westport Country Playhouse has 4 new trustees. Three are from Westport: Jessica Caldwell, Will Haskell and Margie Jacobson.
Haskell — a state senator whose district includes Westport — has a long theatrical history. As a member of Staples High School’s Class of 2014, he was elected of Players, the drama troupe. One of his first memories of live theater was seeing “Curious George” as a child, at the Playhouse’s old barn.
Caldwell graduated from Columbia University’s MFA film program. She produced independent feature films, while her feature film productions have premiered at Berlinale, SXSW and Tribeca. Her short film work has premiered at Sundance, Telluride, and Tribeca. Caldwell was also the writers’ room assistant and showrunners’ assistant on “Billions.” She is also a Moth storytelling contest GrandSlampion.
Jacobson is a nonprofit leader and attorney with legal experience spanning a variety of diverse settings. She is currently of counsel to a boutique law firm advocating for students’ rights from birth through post-secondary education, and co-founder of Woman’s Compass Forum. Jacobson previously served on the Playhouse board, from 2010 to 2016. She also serves on the boards of the ADL and the Remarkable Theater.
The WCP board of trustees is chaired by Westporter Ania Czekaj-Farber.
The Westport Library has 2 new trustees too.
Anna Alemani is CFO of Pierrepont School. Previously she had a 15-year career in finance. She holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and a BA in Business Administration from Bocconi University in Milan, where she focused her studies on management of museums and cultural institutions.
Dave Briggs spent his career in television, as a sports and news reporter/anchor. He has moved from South Dakota and Oklahoma to Boston, where he covered Red Sox World Series championships, Patriots Super Bowl titles and a Celtics NBA crown. He also hosted “Fox & Friends Weekend,” and (for NBC) NHL, NASCAR, NFL and Olympic tennis, before anchoring “Early Start” on CNN. He currently interviews important Connecticut residents for Moffly Media content.
Carl Addison Swanson is many things. He’s a Staples graduate. A lawyer who spent decades in Texas, before returning to Westport several years ago. A frequent contributor to the “06880” comments section.
He’s also an author. His Hush McCormick series has done enormously well, thanks to social media marketing.
But in his latest book, Carl steps away from the “boat bum adventure” genre.
Double Parked in the Twilight Zone: Summer of 1960 is set in Westport. The protagonist, Justin Carmichael — and yes, that’s the name of a 1988 Staples grad, though the similarity ends there — graduates from Bedford Elementary School during that 1960 year.
Suffice it to say, Justin has a very interesting summer.
Carl is a Bedford El grad. (It’s now Town Hall. Carl remembers it well — including the basement, where the Westport Community Theater has replaced civil defense drills of yore.)
“Reaching 65 years of age in February made me aware that I suddenly wanted to talk about my life some more,” Carl says. His return to Westport sparked many memories, some of which he mines in Twilight Zone. (Note the subtle homage to Rod Serling, who lived in Westport when Carl was at Bedford.)
So is this book autobiographical?
Carl Addison Swanson
“In a sense, all writing is about your life and experiences,” he says. “The summer of 1960 was particularly intereseting to me, because a lot happened.”
For instance, Carl started playing golf at Longshore. His Little League team went to the town championship. He went steady with a girl for the first time.
“A lot of fun stuff,” he says.
Though Carl has a satirical streak, this is hardly satire. It is, he says, “a critique on the town back then, through my eyes.”
Westport was a great place to grow up, Carl says — “especially back in the ‘Wonder Years’ of the 1950s and ’60s. There was plenty to do, and a lot more freedom to do so.”
But there were not, he says, “as many adult eyes around as there are today.”
So why the title?
“I was pretty much of a goofball back then,” Carl says. “I got into a lot of trouble.
“I was also scared to death to walk by the Famous Artists School for fear of Rod Serling coming out. It was a terrifying television show.”
Carl Addison Swanson is an avid reader of — and commentator on — “06880.” He is a longtime Westport resident, a keen observer of the town he loves, and a writer. His most recent novel in the famed Hush McCormick series has just been released.
Pig in A Poke is your 3rd book in 3 years. How do you do it?
Out of necessity. It costs a lot of live in Westport.
What does “pig in a poke” actually mean?
It’s an English phrase dating back to the 17th century. They tried to trick you with dog or cat meat, when you thought you were buying ham. In my context it means “watch your ass.” You can never be sure of what you’re
The plot? All-American high school athlete is found guilty of date rape. With the help of Hush, he runs from the law. The FBI, NSA, Mafia and bail bondsmen attempt to track him down.
Your protagonist, Hush McCormick, helps people disappear. What’s with that? He’s a boat bum who likes to help people.
Your alter ego? The bum part.
All your books start out in Connecticut, but never Westport.
My next book, Double Parked in the Twilight Zone, will be set in Westport in the summer of 1960.
Will Westporters like it? If they liked Westport in 1960.
Carl Addison Swanson
You think it’s different now? The blueprint is very much the same. A buddy once told me that the world is made up of 90% assholes, and the key is to find the 10%. There are still a lot of the 10 per cent here. Far more than other places.
So Hush is retired, and you’re writing a memoir? You need to read Poke to find that out. But Hush is very tired. I need a new voice.
Some suspect you are the infamous “The Dude Abides” on this blog. I am much better looking.
Click here to help support “06880” via credit card or PayPal. Any amount is welcome — and appreciated! Reader contributions keep this blog going. (Alternate methods: Please send a check to: Dan Woog, 301 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880. Or use Venmo: @DanWoog06880. Or Zelle: email@example.com. Thanks!)