Tag Archives: Elaine clayton

Roundup: Ambulance, Chickens, Girls Who Code …


It’s hard to believe, but Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service — the men and women who save lives, patch wounds and do everything in between — have to fund raise for nearly all their needs.

From ambulances to Band-Aids, they depend on all of us.

The Westport Woman’s Club is helping, big-time. Yesterday, Westport’s 115-year-old civic organization made it official: They’re providing $300,000 for a new ambulance.

Half the funds come from the club itself. The other half comes from a member’s anonymous contribution.

That’s just part of the WWC’s good works. They recently awarded $39,000 to Fairfield County non-profits. Soon, they’ll grant $36,000 in scholarships to Staples High School seniors.

WVEMS thanks the WWC. And every Westporter should join “06880” in thanking both import life-saving, and life-changing, groups.

Police, town, EMS and Westport Woman’s Club officials, with a $300,000 check. (Photo/Lauri Weiser)


Media personality David Briggs has interviewed some heavy hitters in his career.

But, he says, actor/filmmaker/director/martial artist/studio head Michael Jai White was “the most inspirational person” he’s ever talked with.

The InstagramLive interview is deep and intriguing (see below). And you can see — and listen to — White live and in person tomorrow.

He kicks off the 2nd day of the Westport Library’s VersoFest — a music-and-media extravaganza modeled on South by Southwest — with an 11 a.m. keynote address. It’s free, as are nearly all the events starting today.

Click here for a full schedule and more details — including 3 big concerts.


Bwwaack, bwwaack!

Wakeman Town Farm is crowing about its “egg-cellent” 3-session series: an introduction to raising chickens responsibly at home.

Whether you attend just one, two or all three of the sessions, you’ll  have a chance to bring home 2 Farm-raised chicks, along with a handy starter pack, (feeder, waterer, wood shavings, and 5-pound bag of organic feed).

Instructors include WTF staff and “local chicken experts.”

Session 1 (April 26, 7 p.m., $40): “Introduction and Starting Your Flock” covers how chickens can enrich your life; positive environmental impacts; chicken facts and anatomy; starting a flock, dos and don’ts and more.

Session 2 (May 17, 7 p.m., $55): “Coop, Habitat, Environment and Basic Needs” includes housing and spacing issues, free range pros and cons, local zoning, and creating a happy, stress-free environment.

Session 3 (June 21, 7 p.m., $55): “Products, Maintaining Your Flock, Behavior and Physical Health” offers product recommendations, plus coop maintenance and advice on physical behavior and disease.

Click here to register, and for more information.

Wakeman Town Farm’s mobile chicken coop.


Westport Sunrise Rotary’s contribution of $5,000 to the only coding school for girls in Afghanistan has gone a long way.

It helped ensure that 160 females ages 15 to 24 had access to computers — including 12 laptops purchased through the grant — in class and at home during COVID lockdowns, then following the rise of the Taliban when the school was closed.

Twenty girls and women have already received remote jobs, ranging from design and animation to website development. They have earned $10,000 — an enormous sum in that impoverished country.


Zoe Brown is a go-getter.

Since graduating from Staples High School in 2015, and the University of Southern California, she’s been a producer’s assistant on “Love, Victor” and
“Euphoria.” Season 2. Zoe now works for the president of the K Period Media production company.

In her free time she produced a short web series (“LolaMay”) and a short film (“Great White Lies”). In 2020 Zoe co-founded the Mental Health Content Collective.

(Oh, yeah — she’s also been a tutor, restaurant hostess, communications intern for the Two Oh Three lifestyle brand, babysitter, Challah Connection worker, jewelry designer helper, and started a greeting card/poster business).

Now Zoe has joined a few other young creative-types to produce a play.

“Get It Together” is a woman-led comedy/drama about 2 alienated kids finding a sad, imperfect, real romance at the most confusing time of their lives: stuck between home and the rest of the world.

Since premiering at Boston College in 2018, the play has won awards at the NYC Indie and Denver Fringe Festivals.

Zoe and her crew are raising funds to pay for the crew, set, props, marketing and LA’s Zephyr Theater. To help with a tax-deductible contribution, click here.

Zoe Brown


Westport artist/author/illustrator Elaine Clayton as she discusses those topics (and more) as she celebrates her newest book, “The Way of the Empath: How Compassion, Empathy and Intuition Can Heal Your World.”

The in-person and virtual event is set for the Westport Library on April 20 (7 p.m.).

Her book mentions fellow Westport artist/author Miggs Burroughs’ book “What If?” Clayton says his art “shifts people and communities into a place of compassion.”

No prior experience is needed — just curiosity, and a willingness to be open and have fun. Click here to register, and for more information.


Nancy (Roach) Tanzer — a longtime social studies teacher at Bedford Middle and Staples High Schools — died March 29 in Marshfield, Massachusetts. She was 92, and suffered from congestive heart failure.

She grew up in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Nancy graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Pennsylvania in 1952. She played lacrosse there, and was one of the few women enrolled in business classes.

She began her career in advertising and public relations, where she met her first husband, Duane Roach. After starting a family, Nancy earned a master’s degree in education at Fairfield University and became a history teacher.

Throughout her 20-year career in Westport, she impacted the lives of students in the classroom, and through ski trips and outdoor backpacking adventures. She spent her summers racing sailboats on Long Island Sound. When her children were in college, Nancy became a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician.

Nancy enjoyed the peacefulness of Vermont, and had a vacation/retirement home built there. During a sabbatical year from teaching, she lived in her Vermont home and earned a second master’s degree at Dartmouth College. While there she met Henry Tanzer, who shared her love of the Vermont lifestyle.

After retiring to Vermont with Henry, Nancy volunteered reenacting historical events at Billings Farm and Museum, and giving presentations at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science.

She enjoyed playing bridge, was president of the garden club, and an active member and trustee of the senior center.

She skied at Killington and Okemo well into her 70s. Her love of travel brought her to 36 countries, and she saw 5 of the 7 wonders of the modern world.

Nancy was predeceased by Duane Roach and Henry Tanzer. She is survived by her daughter Deborah (Jeff) Lasala of Scituate, Massachusetts; son Jeff (Susan) Roach of St. Charles, Missouri; her granddaughter Mary (Jake) Genthon and her husband Jake of Ballwin, Missouri, and the Tanzer and Benjamin families of Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Nancy was passionate about the work of Doctors without Borders, the World Wildlife Fund, and St. Jude’s children’s hospital. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to any of those causes.

Nancy Tanzer


Are you a chicken person (see story above) or a turkey person (read on!).

Dianne Behrmann has had 12 turkeys in her Partrick Road back yard. She thinks they live in the nearby wetlands.

“They came running down the driveway one morning, had breakfast and left,” she says.

She took this photo for our “Westport … Naturally” feature, adding: “This is the first time I saw the males all puffed up and making lots of noise. Many gobbles!”

(Photo/Dianne Behrmann)


And finally … Francisco González, a founding member of Los Lobos, died recently. He was 68, and had been diagnosed with cancer.

The group blended “rock-and-roll and R&B, surf music and soul, mariachi and música norteña, punk rock and country,” their website says. NPR called it “Chicano hippies playing mariachi music.” Click here for a full obituary.

Sketching Roots

Elaine Clayton is a longtime Westport. She’s been an “06880” reader from the start, 11 years ago. She’s an artist too, with a passion for sketching her home town.

But despite her many years here, Elaine had no idea how strong her roots are. She writes:

Lately my sister has been exploring our family tree on my maternal side.

She asked if I realized we had ancestors in Westport. I did not.

It turns out my 8th great-grandmother was Abigail Sherwood (whose nephew Daniel was the original owner of Sherwood Island).

Sherwood Island (Elaine Clayton)

In the same family line — which includes Ogdens and Jenningses — my g-grandfather was Joshua Jennings I,; my great-etc. uncles were Joshua Jennings II and III. They married into the Sturges, Bulkley and Burr families. Ogden House on Bronson Road in Fairfield was a many times great uncle’s house.

I had fun too contacting a new-found cousin, Peter Jennings.

This fascinates me, because I have gone around drawing as much of Westport and Southport as I could. My younger son is part of the town too, tending to the beaches and fields with the town crew.

Compo Beach, from Soundview (Elaine Clayton)

How far do your roots go back in Westport? Check them out. They may be deeper than you think! Let us know your links — click “Comments” below.

Oscar’s Is A Sketch

Elaine Clayton is a Westport artist whose sketches of neighborly people and places often appear on WestportNow.com (and, occasionally, “06880“).

Now they’re on view at a quintessentially neighborhood place:  Oscar’s.

Clayton has long been intrigued by all the artists who frequent the downtown deli.  (She pictures the Ashcan School hanging out there.  Oscars’ has been on Main Street a long time, but not that long.)

“The place has great creative energy,” she says.  “It feels like the essential townie place to be.”

This week, her sons Jonah and Alistair helped her hang 25 sketches and paintings on Oscar’s walls.  They’ll be there all month.

They’re fun to see.  Though we’ll refrain from calling them “food for thought.”

Elaine Clayton's Compo lifeguard

Farewell Travels

Farewell Travels seems like an odd name for a website.  Perhaps it is filled with tips on trips to take if you are dumping a partner?  Terminally ill?  Or even your final destination, after you’re gone?

The name becomes easier to understand once you learn its founder and editor is Westport’s Susan Farewell.

Susan Farewell

Farewell — a former travel editor at Condé Nast Publications; freelance writer and editor for “Travel + Leisure,” the New York Times, and in-flight and regional magazines; and travel correspondent for radio and TV programs (among much more) — has launched a “boutique online travel magazine for the discriminating traveler.”  The 3rd edition has just gone live.

The lead story asks “Where is travel going?”  (The answer:  Despite earthquakes, economic woes, security lines and flight delays — pretty well, for reasons ranging from adventure and food to romance.)

There are sections on family travel, health and fitness travel — even “travel fashion tips” by “Queer Eye” star Carson Kressley.  Farewell covers the waterfront — and mountains, deserts and cities — around the globe.

FarewellTravels takes the world as its stage, but many of the stars are from right here in Westport.

Susan’s husband, Tom Seligson, oversees the multimedia productions for the site — animated maps and the like.  The films are edited by Compo Beach resident Charles Gelber.  Even Tom and Susan’s Bedford Middle School daughter, Justine Seligson, gets into the act, writing a teens travel column.

The site — designed by Westporter Miggs Burroughs — includes artwork by Elaine Clayton, who also lives in the Compo Beach neighborhood. Even this month’s video focuses on a local travel adventurer, Richard Wiese.

But the success of the magazine reaches far beyond Westport.  Readership continues to grow, with subscribers in 46 states and 41 countries.

“06880”‘s tagline is “Where Westport meets the world.”  FarewellTravels is doing the same.

Downtown Scenes

Uh-oh.  Be careful what you wish for.

Westporters who feared mob scenes downtown yesterday needn’t have worried.  Black Friday — the negative-sounding name given to the day after Thanksgiving, when retailers’ bottom lines are supposed to turn from red to black thanks to hordes of shoppers, some of whom actually kill for merchandise — was more like Pretty Normal Tuesday in Westport.

Parking lots had open spaces.  Traffic hummed along without tie-ups.  The cop at the corner of the Post Road and Main Street could have spent the day in Dunkin Donuts, and no one would have missed him.

That’s good news for motorists, shoppers and agoraphobics.

It’s bad news for merchants, employees, and our nation in general.

Meanwhile, it was pretty good news for Elaine Clayton, a loyal “06880” reader and artist whose “Illuminara” blog has gotten a shout-out from us in the past.

Elaine took her sketchbook downtown yesterday, and had plenty of room to stretch out and draw.  She was taken by a street musician in the cut-through by Acqua restaurant.  Here it is — and note there’s only one car in the scene.

A Missing Woman Is Found

Many Westporters received reverse-911 calls on their cell or home phones — or both — today.  They said an elderly woman had wandered away from home.

Elaine Clayton got the call too.  Unlike most of us — myself included — who were angry at the intrusion, or wondered why the cops would call about such a thing, Elaine acted.

She had just left her son’s class Halloween party.  She hadn’t planned to go, but at the last minute she did.

Driving home, she noticed a woman walking on the sidewalk.  “Visually, for me, time sort of stopped,” Elaine writes on her Illuminara blog.

She continues:

The sun was on her, and shadows from leafless trees were dancing on her back.  I noticed she wore denim and had white hair.  I especially noticed the light on her hair.  She limped a little.  She was walking at a quick pace but with some effort.  And that was that, a mental picture for me that would get stored away in my artist brain, I guess.

When Elaine got the reverse-911 call, she thought:  “If the person I saw is this missing person, no wonder she was limping.  She’s walked several miles to be all the way over here.”

She called the police.  Ten minutes later, they called back.  Elaine had been right.  The woman was found.  They thanked her for her efforts.

Elaine writes:

I am very visual, being a figurative artist, but if you had asked me to describe all the walkers, bikers, joggers I had passed on the road on the way home, I might not be able to tell you too much.  For some reason, I knew exactly what this woman looked like (from behind at least) and the timing was not only divine in this case, it was a visual blessing.

Something more extraordinary had happened, because while I took visual note of a person walking, I felt compelled to really register her for some reason, all very quickly as we drove by her.  I am pretty sure the policeman on the phone thought I was the oddest lady he’d talked to in a while, the way I was celebrating with shouts of glee.  But all I could think was how the system worked, the woman was found safely well before nightfall, and what a great gift it was!

I would be distraught had it been my own mother.  So I say thanks to the Westport Police, and thanks to whatever angel came through to us today, Vision Angels who work through the sunlight and shadows on a busy street.

What a great story to warm up a chilly autumn night.  Thanks, Elaine, for sharing it.

I hope I remember it the next time I receive one of those perhaps-no-longer-intrusive reverse-911 calls.

Elaine Clayton - "Missing Woman"

Elaine Clayton sketches the missing woman.

Sketching The Sea

blog - beach sketch 1jpgArtist/illustrator/author Elaine Clayton went down to the Sound today.

The harsh weather moved her to poetry.  On her Illuminara blog she wrote:

We live near the beach and my favorite thing to say to the kids is, “What color is the sea today?” as we drive by the vista of the Long Island Sound.

Sometimes it’s bluer than even my idea of the color blue. But more often than not, it is almost colorless, it mystifies with a flat but willful pale nothing-color. Other times it is has a very faint root beer or brown milk chocolate tint. It can be lake green and it can be golden, too, “like buttah” heating up under the sun.

My favorite color of Compo Beach is in summer when it literally shimmers a glow of pale pearliness and the very air is luminescent pink. It is a truly magical thing to experience, it’s like the entire beach and the sky above it is in a prism, and you’re surrounded by a warm, enchanted aura.

Today, a very cold and metallic day at sea, the tide is high because we’re expecting a real nor’easter and I think the grey tone of the tide is changing every few minutes.

She also posted two sketches that matched her mood.  Thanks, Elaine, for sharing the Compo we love with the world!

blog - beach sketch 2