We celebrate November 11 because — 102 years ago today — World War I ended. The armistice took effect at 11 a.m., on 11/11.
Twelve years later — on November 11, 1930 — we dedicated our doughboy statue.
That was 5 years after the town voted to erect a monument to soldiers in “The Great War.” According to Woody Klein’s history of Westport, the commission was offered to Laura Gardin Fraser.
Yet her design — showing a bronze relief figure of Victory — did not meet the committee’s approval.
Three years later the Veterans of Foreign War and American Legion raised $10,000. They commissioned J. Clinton Shepherd, an illustrator, sculptor — and pilot — to memorialize a soldier from “the war to end all wars.”
The doughboy statue. (Photo/Amy Schneider)
Six months after Westport’s first-ever Memorial Day parade, the Doughboy was dedicated. But it was not at Veterans Green, across from what is now Town Hall (and was then Bedford Elementary School).
The original site was the grassy median on on the Post Road 2 miles east — across from what is now Shearwater Coffee, near the foot of Long Lots Road.
A crowd of 3,000 turned out for the dedication of the 20-ton statue. Governor John H. Trumbull was there, along with hundreds of veterans, and 7 bands. Children pulled ropes to unveil the statue.
The doughboy was moved to its present location in 1986. A formal re-dedication ceremony was held on Memorial Day 1988.
According to Mollie Donovan it was painted during the time he lived in Westport with his family, from the mid 1920s to the late ’30s. In our catalog it is called “The Waffle Shop,” but in the Westport Historical Society post in 2004 for Black History Month it was called “Main Street.”
Maybe your readers will remember the place?
The painting actually spells it “Waffle Shoppe.”
And J. Clinton Shepherd was more than a talented painter in Westport’s artists’ colony.
He also sculpted the doughboy statue that was dedicated on November 11, 1930. It stands now on Veterans Green, opposite Town Hall — just a few yards from long-forgotten 22 ½ Main Street.
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