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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Artist/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!
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