Jim Kemish — son of former 1st Selectman John Kemish — now lives in Boca Raton, Florida.
The other day his neighbor Adam, and Adam’s daughter, knocked on Jim’s door. She was selling coupon books to fund her class trip to Washington.
Jim asked them in, and Adam admired the art on the walls.
Jim pointed to his favorite print and said proudly, “That was done by one of my high school art teachers.”
He was stunned when Adam replied, “That’s a Jim Wheeler!”
Jim Kemish and Adam Goby had been dog-walking buddies for a couple of years. But they never knew they both went to Staples — in fact, Adam’s father Dave was a highly respected biology teacher there — and that, to top it off, both were Jim Wheeler fans.
Jim and Adam both wondered if Jim is still alive.
I told them: Not only alive, but healthy, active — and still drawing!
With fall foliage at its peak, Aspetuck Land Trust recommends several great hikes. Two are in Westport.
Caryl & Edna Haskins Preserve is tucked away off Compo Road South. Gentle flat trails circle both ponds. They’re great spots to observe wildlife, and beautiful foliage colors reflecting off the water. A wooded trail near the brook is moderately steep. Click here for the back story on Haskins Preserve.
The red trail through the Newman Poses Preserve (off Bayberry Lane) winds through a wetland on a boardwalk to a meadow marked by large bayberry bushes. Through the meadow towards the lowlands lies the Aspetuck River. A favorite spot for quiet contemplation is the stone bench on the riverbank where neighbor Paul Newman enjoyed floating. The trail loops back by the meadow, into the uplands and back to its starting point.
Trout Brook Valley Conservation Area in Weston is ALT’s biggest preserve: 1,009 acres, with 20 miles of trails. For the best views, start at the orchard. Hike to the highest point; then look south all the way to the Sound and Long Island.
Click here for full details on Aspetuck Land Trust’s preserves.
Cris Jacobs and his band returned to Westport last night for a long-awaited return of the “Supper & Soul” series.
The event — sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce — included a concert at the Westport Library. It was sandwiched in between a 3-course dinner at participating restaurants, and post-concert drinks.
A large crowd enjoyed the music, the food and beverages — and the return to normal entertainment, following the long COVID siege.
“Supper & Soul” at the Westport Library. (Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)
The Westport Country Playhouse production of “From the Mississippi Delta” explores the African American experience in the South, during the Great Migration and civil rights movement.
An insert in the program describes Westport’s role in the movement. An accompanying exhibit on the Great Migration of Blacks out of the South is on view at the Playhouse’s Lucille Lortel White Barn, weekdays from noon to 6 p.m. and on performance dates until intermission.
But the Playhouse also acknowledges current issues. Another insert urges theater-goers to support the Mississippi Rising Coalitions, which addresses the water crisis in Jackson. Click here for more information on that project.
Clck here for more information on “From the Mississippi Delta.” The show runs through October 30.
The cast of “Mississippi Delta” acknowledges applause, From left: Tameishia Peterson, Claudia Logan, Erin Margaret Pettigrew. (Photo/Dave Matlow)
If the weather is clear Tuesday, November 8, the Westport Astronomical Society will have telescopes available for the public to view the lunar eclipse. The observatory is at 182 Bayberry Lane, behind the Aspetuck Health District.
It’s from 4 to 6 a.m. — before the polls open. They’ll post on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Meetup if bad weather scraps their plan.
This is the first Election Day total lunar eclipse in US history. The next one won’t happen again until November 8, 2394. Chances are good you won’t be around for that one.
Unlike a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse is perfectly safe to view == and lasts hours. The moon glides into earth’s shadow, and can be viewed over a large part of the planet.
It will turn a notable reddish color for 84 minutes, as the light from the sun passes through the earth’s atmosphere to reach the moon’s surface. This “blood moon” is the final total lunar eclipse visible from North America until 2025.
This partial lunar eclipse was photographed by Westport Astronomical Society member Carl Lancaster this past May.
And finally … on this day in 1998, a court supported the superintendent at Fort Zumwalt High School in St. Louis, and his decision that the marching band could not play “White Rabbit” in their act, because of its drug references.
(After your Aspetuck Land Trust preserve hike, thank “06880” for the suggestion. Contributions of any amount are welcome! Please click here to help.)
The cost of a Westport beach sticker for out-of-towners — $775 — has been the subject of heated debate, everywhere from the pages of “06880” to the halls of the State Capitol.
This past wee, radio listeners around the state heard about it.
“Ethan & Lou” discussed it on their i95 show. in typical 2-radio-host-trying-to-engage-listeners style.
The station put a variation of the riff on their website too. In the context of complaints about Connecticut’s “rocky (not sandy)” beaches, they mentioned both the expense of Compo, and the many rules posted on the town website. (Hey, guys: The rules are posted at the beach, too.)
The website complains: “No Alcohol!? Can’t bring my dog? Can’t listen to music? No hooch, no pooch and no Scooch? Sounds un-American.”
Of course, alcohol is permitted on South Beach (unlike most state beaches). The “music” ban refers to “amplified music, including bands and DJs” (though they seem to be okay, upon request to Parks & Rec). As for “Scooch” — well, at least it rhymes.
Click here for the full story — including a link to the “Ethan & Lou” segment.
There are definitely lots of rules at Compo Beach.
“06880” has posted photos previously of 1 or 2 plastic poop bags left in otherwise pristine parks, or on people’s lawns and driveways.
But this image — sent by David Brant, executive director of Aspetuck Land Trust which oversees (among many other properties) Haskins Preserve — seems almost perverse. The sign about dog waste — and that there is no “Poop Fairy” — are literally inches away.
Is it a “Candid Camera” stunt? Part of an elaborate psychology experiment?
Or are Westporters just dumping on us?
Whatever the reason: It’s not funny.
Whoever you are: Shame on you.
And just remember: Whatever goes around, comes around.
Lifelong Westporter and former firefighter Stanley Prackup died on Wednesday. He was 87.
One of 8 children, he graduated from Staples High School in 1953. He played baseball there, and was a sharpshooter in its Rifle Club.
Stanley enlisted in the Navy after high school, and served on the USS Valcour and Intrepid. He was awarded the Navy Good Conduct Medal.
After the navy he attended the University of Connecticut.
He was a postal carrier for several years before joining the Westport Fire Department. He served as a firefighter for 20 years, until 1988. He also owned his own landscaping business.
Stanley and his wife Joan built a home here, and lived in it for over 40 years. Devoted to his religion, he was happiest in his garden, and spending time with family and friends.
He was predeceased by his brothers, Frank, Michael and George, and sisters Rose, Barbara and Alice.
Stanley is survived by his wife of 58 years, Joan Prackup; daughters Brenda Prackup, Linda Prackup-Desautels and Sandra Prackup; grandson Luke Desautels; sister Virginia Fiordelisi, and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
A memorial mass will be held Monday (June 6, 10 a.m., St Luke Church), followed by interment at Assumption Cemetery on Greens Farms Road. Click here for a livestream of the service.
On Thursday Adil Kassam, and Mehnaz and Atif Bhanjee — representatives of the Ismaili Muslim community — presented 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, 2nd Selectwoman Andrea Moore, and the Westport Police and Fire Departments with gifts of appreciation.
During the holy month of Ramadan, it’s traditional to visit municipal offices, to express thanks and appreciation for the valuable contributions and services they provide.
Town officials, in turn, expressed gratitude for the Muslim community’s thanks.
Town officials and Ismaili Muslim community representatives, on Thursday.
Two Westport pizza restaurants are looking for new owners.
Ignazio’s — which after many delays opened in November 2019, just 4 months before COVID struck — is one.
A description on BizBuySell reads: “Fantastic opportunity to take over a well executed and furnished Pizza restaurant. Casual and contemporary interior with a wood fired Pizza oven as the center piece makes for a great setting. Keep the existing, highly acclaimed concept….
“Capitalize on this highly trafficked corridor on the Post Road E. in Westport with great visibility, easy access and a parking lot that can accompany 30+ cars. Indoor seating capacity of 60 plus outdoor seating.
“Seller will stay on to train incoming buyer on all operations and recipes. Add a driver(s) to your staff to capitalize on delivery. Target marketing and added delivery will definitely bolster the bottom line.”
The asking price is $275,000. Rent is $8,000 a month. Ignazio’s lease runs through 2028.
The other restaurant is Golden Pizza, in the Westfair strip mall. Less information is available; the price for this business is $85,000. Click here for details. (Hat tip: Tony Litman)
Janette Kinnally sends this obituary for her mother, Janet Kinnally, who died last week at 80.
“She was a loving, kind soul that cared deeply about her family and friendships. I don’t think I ever met a person who did not remember her with great affection and fondness.
“She grew up in London, during the war, and her family of 5 girls was displaced. She lived in a convent for 5 years. When she returned back home, her father suddenly passed away when she was 15. She needed to make money and worked in many jobs, including as an usherette. She met the Beatles. She worked in England until she moved to the States to help her sister, who had moved to Connecticut.
“While on a work visa, she met my father at an insurance company at the age of 23. It was love at first sight for my father. They dated for several weeks until she told him she had to go back to England. My father wrote and said he would like to visit. He went to England, but bought 2 tickets back to the States. He asked her to move back and stay with his family.
“They got married in 1967. They had a true love story. The ones you read about in books, that you wish you had; that was their love and affection for each other. They held hands and walked every day at the beach or her favorite place, Sherwood Island, until my mom could no longer walk a few months ago. They were married for 55 years. She was my dad’s one true love.
“My mom and dad moved to Westport in 1967 and gave birth to me in 1969, her one and only child. We had a special bond. She said I taught her what true unconditional love was. I understand what she means, now that I have 2 boys (ages 16 and 11) of my own. She loved her two grandchildren, Mikhail and Andrew, more than anything.
“My mom was also a lifelong health and wellness pioneer. She sought out Eastern and holistic healing modalities throughout her life. She worked for a chiropractor, a naturopathic doctor and as a caregiver for end-of-life patients. She loved nature, gardens, the ocean and animals, and was a dog walker. She loved helping others. She was truly an amazing woman who inspired me daily.
“My mom and dad enjoyed traveling around the world. Every year they met up with her sister and brother-in-law to travel to a different destination around the globe. They had many stories to share of their adventures and the amazing people they met around the world.
“I moved back to Westport in 2012 with my husband Andrey and my two boys, wanting to be close to my parents as my mom’s health declined from dementia/Alzheimer’s. We lived together until the end of her life.
“I feel grateful that we had the last 10 years together, so she could spend time with me and my children. We have many special memories together, but the ones I remember most are singing at the dinner table and afterwards dancing to the music from the ’50s and ’60s, or doing karaoke at our house during the holidays with our extended family.
“My mom will be greatly missed by our family every day, but her love and her life lessons and generosity of spirit will live on in us forever!
“Please make donations in her honor to the Westport Senior Center or alz.org, an organization providing support, care and research for Alzheimer’s.”
A memorial service and reception to celebrate the life of Joel Hallas is set for Saturday, May 21 (2 p.m., the Memorial Garden of Saugatuck Congregational Church). A reception will follow also in the garden.
Last year, there were 2,251 bear sightings in Connecticut. As many as 700 adult and cub bears live in the state. Residents spotted 3,249 bobacats too.
That’s a big change from a century ago. According to Dr. Tracy Rittenhouse, by the late 1800s, almost all forest here had been logged for agriculture, fuel and construction.
Bears, bobcats and deer were rare.
But forests grow back. And — with strong laws also regulating hunting — large animals have habitats in which they thrive.
Dr. Tracy Rittenhouse, and a black bear.
Dr. Rittenhouse should know. She is a wildlife expert, and an associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Connecticut. Her long-term research project examines how black bears have expanded their range to include suburban areas of the state.
Next Wednesday (November 14, 7:30 p.m., Westport Unitarian Church) she’ll speak about bears and other large mammals — specifically, why we see so many more of them these days, and what it means for folks like us.
The talk is part of Aspetuck Land Trust‘s Haskins Lecture Series. Scientists Caryl and Edna Haskins donated their Green Acre Lane estate to the trust in 2002. It’s now a 16-acre preserve, just off South Compo Road.
Caryl Haskins earned renown as an ant biologist.
Bears and bobcats are somewhat larger. But they’re all part of our Westport world.
For anyone hoping to understand our changing town, Wednesday’s talk should be fascinating.
(Dr. Rittenhouse’s talk is open to the public. Admission is free to Aspetuck Land Trust members. A $5 donation is suggested for non-members.)
Scott Smith is an alert “06880” reader, a longtime Westporter and an ardent outdoorsman. He writes:
If you ask Westporters to comment on our community’s natural charms, chances are most would cite the dazzling string of beaches and coastal places: Compo Beach, Sherwood Mill Pond, Gray’s Creek and Burying Hill. If pressed, they might claims Sherwood Island too.
Others would tout the Saugatuck River, from the fly fishing shallows along Ford Road to the impoundment of Lees Pond, and the tidal stretch through town leading to the mouth at Longshore and Cedar Point. Cockenoe Island gets a shout-out, too, especially from those with the nautical means to visit it.
Fishing off Ford Road (Photo/Richard Wiese)
But plenty of other places across Westport beguile with bucolic beauty. Many of these underappreciated open spaces are in the midst of a welcome renaissance, sparked by renovation efforts from those who love and tend them.
I’m talking about the town parks, preserves, land trusts and wildlife sanctuaries that constitute our remaining inland open spaces. Over the past year or two, I’ve visited quite a few. I always come away thinking how fortunate we are to be able to trod upon them.
“06880” has covered these developments over time, noting singular efforts and improvements. But if you step back and tally them all up, it’s quite an impressive list, covering virtually every part of town.
Over in Old Hill there’s the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum. I toured it a couple of seasons ago with its caretakers, including Lou Mall and tree warden Bruce Lindsay. They’re spearheading its transformation from an untended patch of blow-downs and invasive vines to a fetching enhancement to the adjacent Earthplace facility.
Dead creepers line a Wadswworth Arboretum trail.
Coleytown has the Newman Poses Preserve, which affords a wonderful walk through meadows along the Saugatuck stream and through upland woods. Having the memory of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward and their family as you traipse along is a nice bonus. Their neighbors — and the Aspetuck Land Trust — get credit for giving us that open space.
Right near downtown there’s the blossoming of long-neglected Baron’s South, another town-led reclamation project with even brighter prospects in store as a nature-driven arts campus.
A path in Baron’s South. (Photo/Judy James)
And just down Compo, off Greenacre Road, is the hidden gem of the Haskins Preserve, my longtime favorite place for a weekend stroll.
Haskins Preserve’s dogwoods and daffodils — a lovely combination.
I have “06680” to thank for cluing me in to my newest place to take a hike: the Smith Richardson Preserve in Greens Farms. I’ve long known about the 2 parcels north of I-95. The Christmas tree farm off Sasco Creek Road is where I chop down a tree every year. I consider it in part my annual donation to the Connecticut Audubon Society, which manages the farm and the open space across the road.
But I had no idea of the separate property just across 95, a 36-acre parcel stretching from Sasco Creek all the way to the playing fields behind Greens Farms Academy off Beachside Avenue.
I walked it the other day, taking advantage of frozen ground to course through fields that are in the midst of being cleared of smothering vines and other invasive species.
It’s an impressive project, even if the space is hard by the highway and Metro-North rails. Hemmed in by neighboring houses big and small, and what looks to be a refuse depot managed by the railroad or state, the area has the look of a pocket-size Central Park in the making, with Olmstedian trails that wind through woods, and alongside meadows and ponds. I can’t wait to see how the property develops, with its ambitious new plantings and clearings, and whether the caretaking crews can keep the tick-haven invasives at bay.
Smith Richardson Preserve (Photo/Scott Smith)
These public/private corners of our community are all discovered places, at least for me. When I visit them, either with my dog or solo, I’m often the only one around. I like the solitude, and question why I’d even want to spread the word about them. Parking is often a pinch, and I’m not even sure about the proper access to the new Smith Richardson preserve behind GFA’s sprawling athletic fields.
Compo Road South is home to 2 beautiful town-owned properties.
Everyone knows Baron’s South. A few “06880” readers thought last week’s photo showed rocks and woods on that land a few steps from downtown, once owned by perfume mogul Walter Langer von Langendorff.
Nope. As Leigh Gage, Alec Head and Jamie Walsh knew, it was Haskins Preserve — the much-lesser-known gem on Green Acre Lane, off South Compo. It’s just as lovely as Baron’s South, and easier to access. Click here for the back story; click here for Wendy Cusick’s photo.
Equally rustic is this sign, commemorating Westport’s founding as a town. In fact, it looks like it dates all the way back to 1835. If you know where in Westport you’d see it, click “Comments” below.
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