Tag Archives: Old Mill Beach

Fred Cantor: Seeing Westport Through SoCal Eyes

“06880” readers know Fred Cantor as an avid commenter, with a keen eye for Westport’s history, and a passion for its present and future. He’s also a multi-talented writer, movie and play producer, and attorney

Fred Cantor (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

The 1971 Staples High School graduate has had health issues, so for the past few years he and his wife Debbie have spent winters in Southern California. They were there last year, when the pandemic (and his doctor’s advice) turned a few months’ stay into more than a year. It was the longest time he’d been away from Westport since moving here at age 10.

After 17 months, Fred and Debbie are back. Here’s what he sees.

The first thing that grabbed our attention coming off Exit 17 was the empty train station parking lot. We had read about the large number of people working at home, but that was an eye-opener.

Yet then, almost instantly, there were old welcome sights: the approach to the distinctive Cribari Bridge — with early signs of spring (daffodils in full bloom) — and just past the bridge, 19th-century homes with yards fronted by quintessential New England stone walls or wrought-iron fences.

Daffodils near the William F. Cribari Bridge.

I don’t think Debbie and I crossed a bridge over a river once in our area of SoCal— and certainly not a bridge on the National Register of Historic Places — even before the pandemic, when we did more driving. Southern California has much natural beauty, but in the area of Orange County where we rented, numerous rivers and streams are certainly not among them.

And historic 19th century homes — well, they did not exist there. Some of those towns were created in the 1960s or later.

Handsome home on Bridge Street.

Westport’s historic homes, stone walls, rivers and meandering tributaries — such as can be seen along Ford Road — are among the sights I missed the most.

The scene along Ford Road.

Forsythias blooming all around Westport were another “welcome home” sign; that too was much rarer in our part of SoCal.

Forsythia blooms outside a 1930 Imperial Avenue home.

Heading to the beach, I had to stop at Joey’s By The Shore at its new location. I hoped to see Joey after all this time. but he’s away.

Back in business: Joey’s by the Shore.

That reinforced my feelings that, while many of us embrace longtime local establishments, it is largely the proprietors we really have such warm feelings about. That was certainly true when the Nistico family switched its restaurant operation from the Arrow to the Red Barn.

Walking across the street to Old Mill Beach instantly reminded me why that has long been a personal favorite. It’s not only beautiful; it’s often serene, as exemplified by a couple quietly reading their iPad and newspaper on a nearly empty beach.

Old Mill Beach.

When I was away I stayed in touch with Westport friends via email, texts, social media, occasional phone calls and Zoom.

I followed local Westport news via “06880,” so in certain respects I didn’t feel 3,000 miles away from what was happening here.  By contrast, I vividly recall the summer of 1964. I was at camp in Pennsylvania, and learned of my Little League team winning the Minor League World Series a week after the fact, when I received a letter from my parents with a clipping from the Town Crier.

The most difficult thing about being so far away was not being able to see our 93- and 95-year-old moms. Daily phone calls and occasional FaceTime calls didn’t quite suffice.

So that first weekend back in town generated a teary reunion hug between Debbie and her mom. It was coupled with a culinary discovery: delicious mini-babka at the new Kneads Bakery, which we all enjoyed at their outdoor dining area.

Fred’s wife Debbie Silberstein, Debbie’s mother and aide, at Kneads Bakery. (All photos/Fred Cantor)

That first weekend back also generated our first experience with traffic. At 4 p.m. Saturday there was a big backup on Bridge Street toward Saugatuck. Traffic crawled on 95, spilling over onto local streets.

Other than on the single-lane canyon road leading to Laguna Beach, we never experienced major backups in SoCal. The main local roads have 3 lanes in each direction — with an additional two left-hand turn lanes at major intersections.

During that traffic tie-up on Bridge Street I witnessed an “only in Westport” moment (and something I had never seen in close to 60 years here). Moving right by the traffic on a highly unusual mode of transit were two cyclists on penny-farthings (you can look it up🤨).

Seeing that, I knew for sure I was back in Westport!

Pics Of The Day #1403

Scenes from today’s snowfall:

Boat at Old Mill Beach (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

A dash of color at Harvest Commons (Photo/Judith Katz)

Schlaet’s Point (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

South Beach bathroom (Photo/Mary Sikorski)

Pic Of The Day #1402

A few days ago, off Compo Beach … (Photo/Thomas Purcell)

… and just before the snow, at Compo Cove (Photo/Amy Schneider)

Pic Of The Day #1401

Self-portrait at Old Mill Beach with Levon (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Pic Of The Day #1368

Low tide at Old Mill (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Pic Of The Day #1359

Old Mill sunrise, this morning (Photo/Matt Murray)

Northrops: New Fence Is Temporary

The fence at Sherwood Mill Pond is temporary, says Jeff Northrop Jr.

His family owns the strip of land where a fence was erected yesterday. It’s on the north side of the walking path between Old Mill and Compo Cove.

The temporary fence keeps people and pets off of the property while water quality monitoring tests are conducted.

The testing — which may take a year — will examine eutrophication, Northrop says. That occurs when a body of water becomes overly enriched with minerals and nutrients, which induces excessive algae growth. The process may result in oxygen depletion of the water, which harms fish and other wildlife.

“Protecting marine resources starts with sound agricultural and waste management practices,” Northrop notes.

Sherwood Mill Pond. (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)

Sherwood Mill Pond was in bad shape in the 1970s. It took decades of work to get it where it is today.

The fence will prevent dogs, and humans like fishermen and crabbers, from accessing the pond, which could impact the testing.

If a permanent fence is needed — for liability purposes, and/or to keep hordes of youngsters from jumping off the bridge (as they did last loudly and constantly last summer, to the annoyance of neighbors) — Northrop says it will be more aesthetically pleasing than the chain link one that’s there now.

Temporarily.

The new fence at Sherwood Mill Pond.

Pic Of The Day #1333

Old Mill lights (Photo/Amanda Fahimi)

Pics Of The Day #1321

Early morning at Compo Beach … (Photo/Jimmy Izzo)

… and looking south off of Surf Road, on Saugatuck Shores … (Photo/Todd Freeman)

… and Old Mill Beach (Photo/Ferdinand G. Jahnel)

Old Mill Wedding Proposal: The Sequel

This morning, I posted a photo and story about a guy who waited nervously at Old Mill Beach. He was about to propose to his girlfriend.

Patricia McMahon — who took the photo — did not know whether she said yes.

But —  coincidentally — her husband Matthew Levine’s cousin lives nearby.

Turns out the family was home. They saw the big moment from their deck.

And, they told Patricia: She said yes!

If they get married at Old Mill, “06880” will report that too.

(Photo/Patricia McMahon)