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Tag Archives: Main Street
When Fred Cantor graduated from Yale University in May of 1975, his parents gave him a 35mm Nikkormat camera. He’d always enjoyed taking photos, with an inexpensive Kodak.
In December he returned to Westport for break, from the University of Connecticut School of Law.
There was a beautiful snowfall. On Christmas Day, Fred knew that downtown would be empty. He’d always enjoyed the “Norman Rockwell-esque” feeling there. He hoped to capture it, without interference.
After 45 years — to the day — parts of downtown look very different. Parts look much the same.
After 45 years too, the photos have faded.
But the memories have not.
Every once in a while, a driver heading south on Main Street — past Rye Ridge Deli on the right, and Brooks Corner on the left — will ignore the several large “One Way/Do Not Enter” signs.
And the oncoming traffic. And two rows of parked cars, one on either side of the street, all facing the same way.
When it does, the wrong-way driver will get all embarrassed and shame-faced. Then, v-e-r-y s-lo-w-l-y, she (or he!) will slowly back up.
But not yesterday.
When surprised motorists and pedestrians informed this driver that he (or she!) was headed the wrong way, they* kept right on going.
And backed right into a vacant parking spot.
I have no idea what happened later. Did the driver leave the same way it came?
Or just keep going to the Post Road?
*It’s now proper usage.
The eagle has landed.
Well, it landed a long time ago. The sculpture has been affixed for years to a building on the east side of Main Street, just north of Brooks Corner.
Some readers referred to it by its current tenant: Brandy Melville. Others recalled previous incarnations: Jewels by Jason, Great Stuff, Things. One remembered the view from Oscar’s, across the street.
Jill Turner Odice provided plenty of background:
This eagle is on the front of the building on Main Street. My late husband Louis Odice’s salon was on the 3rd floor. He took over from Martin Pinto. It was also the apartment of photographer Tom Head, and a vintage clothing store at various times.
Downstairs was an ice cream shop run by one of Stew Leonard’s kids, and New England Jewelry Repair by the Hampel brothers (Matt and Bob) in the back.
Chou Chou Raum’s dad Jason had a jewelry shop there, and they lived upstairs. There was a crystal shop on the 2nd floor, and a travel agency over the years. Also a fur shop at one time…
I’m not sure about Stew Leonard’s kids running an ice cream shop — but the building was also the first of 3 locations for the Ice Cream Parlor.
It’s a proud building, represented by a proud bird. Rich Stein, Fred Cantor, Diane Silfen, Elaine Marino, Michael Don Sullivan, Deej Webb, Ellen Aston and Jill Turner Odice all correctly identified Mary Gai’s image. Click here to see it.
Dave Wilson provides this week’s gorgeous Photo Challenge. If you know where you’d see this, click “Comments” below.
The month-long closure of the south end of Main Street is over. Planters have been removed; cars can once again park on both sides of the road.
Cancellation of the July 4th fireworks disappointed thousands of Westporters. But the decision was especially tough on Westport PAL. They sponsor the annual show. The money they make pays for a host of activities: sports programs for thousands of kids, the Longshore Ice Rink, an annual Halloween parade, a party for children with Santa, health and wellness efforts, and much more.
Which is why their upcoming golf tournament (September 14, Longshore golf course) is more important than ever.
The 58th annual event — named for former Police Chief Samuel Luciano, a staunch PAL supporter — begins at 7 a.m. with a continental breakfast and putting contest.
There’s a shotgun start, scramble format; lunch; more golf, then dinner, raffles and prizes (hole-in-one, hula hoop, longest drive, closest to pin).
The cost is $175 per golfer, $700 per foursome. Sponsorships are available too, from $150 to $5,000 (largest sign at first tee, banner on dinner tent, complimentary foursome). Click here to register, sponsor — or just donate to PAL.
Westport’s “Back to School” and “After-School” programs — both of which serve families in need — are always well utilized, and generously supported. In our new coronavirus world, they are more important than ever.
Elaine Daignault — director of the Department of Human Services, which oversees both projects — notes, “This is not a typical fall. COVID-19 has disrupted the usual back-to-school enthusiasm with a sense of anxiety, and fear of the unknown.
“Still, you can help to reinforce a child’s sense of hope and stability by ensuring they have tools they need to excel in school, and an opportunity to participate in after-school activities.”
Human Services relies on the generosity of neighbors to provide financial assistance for income-eligible families. Last year, 192 children benefited from Westport’s Back to School Program, and many families accessed affordable after-school childcare.
Tax-deductible donations (cash or gift cards to Staples, Target, Walmart, etc.) can be made online; click here, then select “Family to Family Programs – Seasonal Program – Back to School”), or send a check payable to “Town of Westport/DHS Back to School Program” to Human Services, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Westport, CT 06880.
Families who may qualify for this program should contact DHS youth and family social worker Michelle Bottone by phone (203-341-1068) or email (email@example.com).
Residents of Glenwood Lane have had it with Optimum.
After Tropical Storm Isaias, it took 12 days for cable and onternet to be restored to the street, off Maple Avenue South. Pieces of old cables still hang there.
Two days ago — August 31 — a crew finally arrived to clean up. But they turned the service off again, leaving residents who depend on the internet during the pandemic unable to work.
Optimum responded that the earliest they could come back to fix their mistake would be September 5. They then said they would come yesterday (September 1). However, they did not show up. Optimum now promises to come today.
Instead of sitting waiting for another no-show, some residents publicized their plight. This is one of 2 signs at the head of their road.
Westport knows him as Willie Salmond. He was born in Scotland, lives here, and has spent much of his professional career (and retirement) in Africa, working first in international development and then in AIDS relief. He is also an author and screenwriter.
As William Salmond, he’s just published “Deep Secrets.” Here’s a brief description, on Amazon:
As the Coronavirus ravaged the world economy with the yawning chasm of inequality between rich and poor getting deeper and wider, no one seemed to notice the movement south into Africa of swaths of Al Qaeda-hardened committed fighters. It was a unique opportunity to regroup and prepare for the final knock-out blow to the Great Satan and her allies whose economies were already on the ropes.
Is life a game of chance? Or is there a guiding hand? Racked by guilt and shame can we truly be forgiven and find healing and even love?
Money man Winslow Kirk looks for answers to these questions as he steps out of his comfort zone into the heart of Africa in search of his granddaughter Eleanor whom he allowed to be given up for adoption following a tragic boating accident. A threat note from the world’s number one terrorist who is coordinating the threat to Western countries sharpens his resolve. Can he find Eleanor and will she forgive him? After his wife’s death and his own cardiac illness he begins to muse about what really matters.
For more information and to order, click here.
And finally … today would be the 81st birthday of Robert Lee Dickey. When he began singing with his cousin James Lee Purify, the duo became “James and Bobby Purify.” Dickey died in 2011. You may not remember their names, but this beautiful song may ring a bell:
Cultural institutions are reopening around Connecticut. However, the Westport Museum for History and Culture will remain closed.
Executive director Ramin Ganeshram says it’s not because they want to. Instead, she wrote in an email to members, “we have to.”
One reason: the “antique building with small rooms and an aged HVAC system” lacks the air filtration or cross-ventilation needed to host more than 1 or 2 visitor at a time.
In addition, a “major structural failure in the center of the building that was left unaddressed for many years and exacerbated by aspects of the way the building was used” will take “a lot of time and a lot of financial resources to ultimately fix.”
However, Ganeshram said, the COVID closure has allowed staff to “fix both the structural failure and work to save collections and archives that had not been properly assessed, catalogued or preserved for many decades.”
MoCA Westport is reopening. The big day is Wednesday (July 8).
In anticipation, they’ve released a short film showcasing the current exhibition: “Helmut Lang: 41.1595° N, 73.3882° W.”
The video from Douglas Tirola and 4th Row Films offers a first-person experience of walking through the exhibition, and provides background on Lang’s inspiration for the works. Click below to see.
Last night was gorgeous. The temperature was just right. It was Friday — the start of the weekend.
It was the perfect night for a picnic, meeting friends, or sunset watching at Compo Beach. It hardly mattered that there are no grills or picnic tables, and the concession stand is closed.
Nearly everyone heeded the social distancing signs. Many wore masks. And nearly everyone seemed grateful to be outdoors, with other people, again.
The Main Street planters are all in place. The Westport Downtown Merchants Association project was created to provide more room for shoppers.
This was the scene yesterday morning. Come on down — there’s plenty of space!
Speaking of flowers: This week’s Westport Garden Club #Friday Flowers decorations are at Nevada Hitchcock Park *the corner of Cross Highway and Weston Road).
Two great factoids: The park honors Hitchcock, a founding member of the club. And the flowers — from the gardens of Andi Turner, Janice Yost and Topsy Siderowf — are pollinators. This is National Pollinator Week.
Meanwhile, the Pop’TArt gallery downtown had a low-key opening last night for its new “Scheherezade: The Shapes of Stories” sculpture exhibition. It will be up for the next month.
It’s outdoors — to the delight of at least one young, budding art lover.
When COVID forced shutdowns and program closures, STAR went to work.
For the past 68 years, the organization has provided services and support to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families.
During the pandemic. STAR’s 45-minute Zoom classes kept clients and their loved ones connected and involved.
Westport participants have included Yvonne O’Kane, who taught cupcake decorating; artist Miggs Burroughs, State Senator Will Haskell, and Wakeman Town Farm. There’s been live music too, along with virtual dance parties.
Kudos to STAR, for this innovative, important programming — and to all who help make it work. Click here for more information.
And finally … Happy jUNe Day!
Growing up, Rob Trauber spent only a couple of years in Westport.
But the town made enough of an impression on him that — more than 40 years later — he decided to open a new store here.
That’s significant. Trauber is not some fledgling shopkeeper. He’s the CEO of Johnny Was.
This Friday (July 3), the 56th store in the women’s California-inspired, women’s clothing and accessories chain debuts at 81 Main Street. It’s the first Johnny Was in Connecticut.
And Trauber’s 1970s youth has a lot to do with this location.
The former Kings Highway Elementary School student has fond memories of the riding his bike around town, and taking the minnybus to Longshore and Compo. He bought candy at Carmine’s smoke shop. He remembers those Jimmy Carter-era days as if they were yesterday.
Sure, Trauber’s family moved from Westport long ago. But he has retained his ties. Eight years ago, he built a house on Sturges. His brother-in-law lives here now, as does one of his best friends.
Johnny Was’ collections — one-of-a-kind kimonos, swimwear, denim jackets, pants, blouses and pajamas, along with jewelry, shoes and handbags — are in upscale places like Southampton, Boca Raton and Carmel.
Trauber has wanted to open in Westport. Yet until recently, he says, “rents were out of whack compared to volumes.”
Then a great space opened up, just past Lululemon. “It’s the right street, and the right area of the street,” he says.
Trauber lives now in San Marino. “It’s the closest thing in Los Angeles to Westport,” he says. “The people remind me of Westport.” There are even “East Coast trees,” like 100-foot oaks.
Though the retail world has shifted dramatically in recent years, Trauber — who worked for J. Crew when the Westport location was one of its top 5 in the nation — believes firmly in downtown.
“The irrelevant retailers are gone,” he says. “There’s a place for aspirational, luxury brands that have the feel of boutiques. Customers love to touch and feel things, try them on.”
His neighbors — like one of Anthropologie’s biggest stores, and Serena & Lily — are the types of places Johnny Was enjoys being near.
On his most recent trip “home,” Trauber drove by his old home near Cranbury Road. He put his daughters on a bench overlooking the pond he often skated on. Everything felt right.
His California executives are not traveling now, due to COVID-19. So the Manhattan-based team (and Trauber’s brother-in-law) will represent him at the July 3 opening.
He’ll miss seeing the bright murals, tile floor, reclaimed wood tables and bronze hardware. But he promises to be here soon.
Until then, he’s doing one special thing for Westport.
When he rode his bike into town for candy, Trauber sometimes did not have enough money. Carmine let him buy it “on account,” or gave it to him free.
To pay homage, for a limited time Johnny Was will provide free vintage candy to customers.
The Westport location has not even opened. But already we’re way cooler than Southampton, Boca Raton and Carmel.
BONUS FACTOID: The name of the chain comes from an old Bob Marley song, “Johnny Was a Good Man.”
If you haven’t been to Main Street in a while — since, say, yesterday — you’ll find quite a transformation.
To enhance social distancing, parking has been eliminated through August on the one-way stretch between Pop’TArt Gallery and Vineyard Vines.
And to enhance its beauty, the Westport Downtown Merchants Association (and 8 volunteers) planted 36 planters in those former parking spots.
There’s more room to walk around. It looks a lot better when you do. And the DMA is coordinating volunteers to make sure the new additions (and the other plantings on poles) will be watered all summer.
PS: There is plenty of parking available. And now it’s all unrestricted. No time limits — no worries!
On a normal Friday morning, Westport’s business district would have been bustling.
Today was not a normal Friday morning. Neither was any day this week, or last. And it won’t be normal next week either.
Alert — and saddened — Molly Alger took a lonely tour through town this morning. Here’s what she saw.
But then — a few hours later — skies cleared. The sun came out. And all over town, people smiled.