Old Mill tidal current (Photo/June Rose Whittaker)
Old Mill tidal current (Photo/June Rose Whittaker)
Last night was another glorious one at the Levitt Pavilion.
Theo Kandel and Grace Gardner headlined.
Tonight it’s Quadrature. Click here for more information on Westport’s premier outdoor entertainment venue, including a calendar of upcoming events.
Also last night:
“06880” has run several photos of crabbers in Sherwood Mill Pond.
They’re also in Long Island Sound — using the same LED headlamps as in the pond itself, to illuminate their work.
This view — taken at 8:45 p.m. — is from the Old Mill Beach parking lot.
Also this weekend:
Filming took place in Westport for a documentary about film critic Susan Granger. She has spent 8 decades in and around the movie industry, from the Golden Age of Hollywood to present-day streaming.
Granger’s father directed and produced films like “Born Yesterday.” Her godfathers were Milton Berle and Red Skelton. Thanks to her dad, starting at age 4 she appeared in small roles with Skelton, Lucille Ball, Abbott & Costello and others.
That background gave Granger a unique perspective as a film critic and speaker. She writes often for Westport Journal and Hearst Connecticut Media Group.
Others interviewed in recent weeks include Fairfield residents Keir Dullea and Mia Dillon.
The documentary short is projected to be ready for film festivals next year. (Hat tip: Fred Cantor)
Susan Granger, preparing for her shoot.
Westport’s League of Women Voters reminds students heading off to college to apply for an absentee ballot, for November’s election.
Click here for information, including a link to the application.
A colorful hibiscus takes center stage, in today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature:
And finally … on this day in 1962, Jamaica gained its independence from the United Kingdom.
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Everyone notices the boat that’s stranded at low tide by Old Mill Beach. “06880” has run photos of it. Here’s a different view:
Old Mill Beach (Photo/Tom Kretsch)
Compo Beach clouds, yesterday … (Photo/Paul Quinsee)
… and the view around the corner, at Schlaet’s Point … (Photo/Matt Murray)
… and Old Mill Beach and Sherwood Island State Park, after Monday’s storm. (Photo/Seth Goltzer)
It’s a familiar question for mothers moving to Westport with young kids: How do I meet people?
It was particularly tough during the pandemic.
But Carrie Kerner “read the room,” and took action.
Carrie — who owns her own hospitality PR firm — found herself in that I-need-to-find-other-moms situation shortly after arriving here, and having her second child during COVID.
She was searching too for good books to read.
One Instagram post later, she had 20 interested mothers with young children. Carrie suggested a beach meeting, after sundown.
The first one was last July. It was a success, and word spread.
The next “Books on the Beaeh” sessions drew 60 and 80 women to Old Mill Beach. There are now 150 names on her group chat, and meetings are capped at 100.
That gives the restaurant sponsors a break.
That’s right: Carrie has made “Books on the Beach” a full event, complete with food, cocktails, pop-up shops with discounts, and swag bags.
In just one year, Carrie’s created a popular and very cool new tradition.
Along the way she’s helped dozens of women meet others, form friendships, have fun, get out of the house for a night — and read interesting books.
Also: meet interesting writers. Last year, Carrie invited international best-selling author (who was once a young mom herself here) Jane Green to chat with the group.
A small part of Books on the Beach …
The first Books on the Beach meeting of 2023 is tomorrow (Tuesday — but registration is closed). Local author Avery Carpenter Forrey will speak about her debut novel “Social Engagement.”
Bartaco is sponsoring light bites and cocktails. Sam & Lex will have a pop-up shop, with 10% off all women’s clothing and accessories. Swag bags come courtesy of wellness, beauty and lifestyle partners.
Last year’s sponsors include PopUp Bagels, Stocked by Three Owls and Norwalk Art Space Café.
… and a small part of a Books on the Beach spread.
Carrie did not forget about the children. For Valentine’s Day she hosted “Books on the Beach for Tots” at Child Pose Yoga. The Saturday morning book club and art class was led by Samy Souci of Westport Learning Collaborative.
The kids’ books were about love, kindness and inclusivity. Old Mill Grocery & Deli provided breakfast bites.
Book ideas for the adults, meanwhile, come from group polls. They’re generally romances, mysteries and best-sellers.
“This is such a cozy, inclusive group,” Carrie says. “Everyone’s happy. There are no cliques.”
It’s not all moms with young kids, either. Some women are older. Some are 20something singles. “We just call it ‘moms,'” Carrie notes. “But everyone mixes and mingles.”
No dads, though. “They stay home with the babies!” she laughs.
If you’re not on the list (and a woman), you won’t be at tomorrow’s Books on the Beach. To get on the list for future events, DM @CarrieGeorgette or @Booksonthebeach203 on Instagram. Carrie will add you to the WhatsApp group chat.
Meeting in March.
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As summer begins, and crowds head toward Old Mill — to sit on the beach, fish in the inlet or jump (illegally) from the pedestrian walkway — it’s hard not to notice the handsome white house straddling between Long Island Sound and Sherwood Mill Pond.
What was once a grist mill is now (following 2 fires) a private home. With water flowing underneath, and killer views on both sides, it’s one of those places we love imagining living in.
It’s been a private home for over a century. (Pete Aitkin, the Black Duck owner, is a former resident.)
Here’s what it looked like, around 1910. The colorized image comes from Paul Ehrismann, whose collection of seldom-seen photos seems limitless.
(Every Friday, “06880” looks backward. Looking forward, we need reader’s support. Please click here to make a tax-deductible contribution. Thank you!)
Two big changes — a portable toilet at Old Mill Beach, and a smoking ban at all beaches and town recreation areas — were on Westport’s Parks & Recreation Commission agenda last night.
No action was taken — though not for lack of interest.
“06880” intern Colin Morgeson reports there was plenty of concern about the proposed port-a-potty. It would be kept away from the 64 parking spots, guard shack, and 39 nearby private properties.
Parks & Recreation director Jen Fava noted, “there kinda isn’t a good location.”
Commission member Chrissy O’Keeffe asked, “What do we want Old Mill to be? To me it’s a beautiful little enclave, not the kind of place you would go for a whole day. That’s something everyone in town knows about Old Mill.”
A vote was postponed, due to the absence of the lead petitioners asking for the toilet.
A portable toilet on Old Mill Beach would be situated away from parking spaces — and homes.
The commission then discussed smoking at town beaches, pools, athletic fields and racquet courts, and where — if at all — the use of tobacco and cannabis should be permitted. A ban would not include the Longshore golf course, passive town parks or parking lots.
Members focused on how surrounding communities have approached the issue. Smoking bans based on proximity to amenities have worked, as opposed to wide bans.
O’Keeffe noted the importance of communication, to minimize confusion.
A vote was postponed to a future date.
There’s a lot of room at Compo Beach. Would a smoking ban work there? (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)
Though the town’s tennis courts are in better condition than in recent years, commissioners also heard concerns about softness at Longshore tennis. Resident Lloyd Clareman recommended increasing the amount of water and calcium chloride.
Parks & Rec operations manager Carmen Roda reported that adjustments have been made in the timing and frequency of watering. Calcium chloride is being worked into the budget.
(There’s always something going on at our beaches — and on “06880.” Please click here to support your hyper-local blog. Thank you!)
Next Wednesday’s Parks & Recreation Commission meeting (May 17, 7:30 p.m., Zoom; click here for the link) features 3 interesting agenda items.
Perhaps because of the increasing popularity of Old Mill Beach — it now attracts more than just nearby residents — the board will vote on a request for a “porta-john.”
Then they’ll introduce and discuss (but not vote on) a “proposed smoking/vaping policy.” Details are unavailable, but a source said it relates to a ban on smoking and vaping — including cannabis — at town beaches.
Then comes discussion of the Longshore Capital Improvement Plan final report.
It will be a busy night, involving 3 key topics: money, bathrooms, and weed.
Prime spot for a port-a-potty. (Photo/Dan Woog)
The Westport Garden Club does more than plant bulbs.
They’ve sponsored a youth poetry contest on “birds, bees and trees”; provided an all-terrain wheelchair to Wakeman Town Farm; donated beach grass plugs for Sherwood Island State Park’s dune restoration, and a new greenhouse at Earthplace for young naturalists and volunteers; and given a scholarship for a student studying horticulture or landscape design.
All of that — and also maintaining 7 public gardens in Westport — takes money.
And all of that funding comes from the Garden Club’s annual plant sale.
It’s tomorrow (May 13 — a first-ever Saturday date), from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Jesup Green.
On sale: over 1,000 plants from members’ own gardens, plus tomatoes and herbs.
The festive event includes an activity table for kids, a selection of garden books from the Westport Book Shop, and free saplings from Bartlett Tree Experts.
Wheelbarrows will be on standby. As always, Garden Club members offer advice on purchases.
One more idea: If you haven’t finished your Mothers Day shopping (and don’t have a green thumb), you can choose from a collection of gift-ready planters.
The annual plant sale funds Westport Garden Club displays all over town.
Yesterday’s glossy New York Times special “Homes” advertising supplement was filled with national real estate listings.
One — on page 3 — was from Westport.
It showed the controversial $7.9 million 233 Hillspoint Road home — described, of course, in breathless real estate prose:
There’s just one thing. If a buyer decides that’s his or her house because of the very cool chimney at the south end: no deal.
That was part of the reason construction was halted for 2 years. The illegal addition has now been removed. (Hat tip: John Karrel)
All of Fairfield County (and Westchester) loves Alison Milwe Grace.
On Tuesday, the rest of the country will too.
The Staples High School graduate/Weston resident/founder-owner of very popular AMG Catering & Events will be featured on Food Network’s parking lot culinary marathon show, Supermarket Steakout (Tuesday, 9 p.m.).
She taped the show in January, in California. It was her second appearance on Food Network. In 2015 she made it to the 4th and final round of elimination in an intense battle, preparing dishes that the judges praised as “creative, complex and delicious.”
Alison calls this “another opportunity, another fun show, another personal ‘cheffy; challenge, and more memories with the best network around, and the amazing Alex Guarnaschelli.
Alison’s motto is “Follow your dreams — just make sure to have fun too!”
She’s sworn to secrecy (and an iron-clad contract) to not reveal how she did ahead of time.
But hey: She wouldn’t want us watching if she burned, undercooked or otherwise messed up royally, right?
SIDE DISH: Finding Connecticut just posted a nice interview with Alison. Click here to see.
Alison Milwe Grace
College applications are almost a full-time job for teenagers.
Now Teens at MoCA — the museum’s junior board — are helping with that task.
At least, for anyone hoping to use his or her artwork to get into school, or pursue an art degree.
They’re holding a series of Zoom sessions, on how to create a portfolio in a variety of mediums.
Each will be led by a different senior — all of whom are off to great schools next fall.
This is a great opportunity for current sophomores and juniors. The lineup is:
May 18: Ava Waldman (New York University ’27) and Alex Beebe (University of Southern California ’27): Applying as a film student.
May 22: Lily Wickersham (Marist College ’27) and Mia Vindiola (Parsons School of Design ’27): Visual art and fashion.
May 24: Lexi Walsh (Washington University ’27): Architecture.
Click here to register.
Artwork by Mia Vindiola
Westport artist Cris Dam is our newest ACE.
Presented by the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County, the Arts & Culture Empowerment (ACE) award honors individuals, organizations and businesses that make significant contributions to the area.
An artist-entrepreneur who pioneered artists spaces in Berlin, Williamsburg and now Bridgeport, he is also a curator and community organizer.
After establishing his studio in Bridgeport, and reviving art events at the historic Arcade Mall, he established Ursa Gallery in 2020. Dam organized the first Bridgeport booth at Art Basel Miami in 2022. a
Dam is currently developing real estate on Fairfield Avenue in Bridgeport to create working spaces for fellow artists, raise community awareness, host events, and open a coffee roaster. He also teaches children in community art and leadership programs at Norwalk Community College.
Dam receives his honor next month, at a Norwalk Shore & Country Club breakfast. A special President’s Award will be presented to Westporters Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, recognizing their significant impact on the arts, culture and children’s health in Fairfield County. The MC is Weston’s James Naughton. Click here for full details.
Westport’s spring paving program begins Monday (May 15). It continues through mid-June.
The following roads will be paved (though not in this order):
Questions? Call the Department of Public Works: 203-341-1120.
Jonathan Greenstein — the photojournalist/film director/tea importer/ athlete/world traveler/ environmentalist, whose battle with ALS inspired countless people around the world — died in 2021. He was 50 years old.
Westporters have not forgotten him.
A Wim Hof Fundamentals Workshop — teaching techniques that help patients breathe stronger and longer == is set for Saturday, May 20 (10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.).
A $225 donation benefits the Breathe4ALS Foundation. Attendees receive a hardcover book of Greenfield’s photography and log pants.
The event is free for people living with ALS. Click here for tickets, and more information.
Not long after his ALS diagnosis, Jonathan Greenfield (right) hiked in Spain with Wim Hof.
Britt Hennemuth — the 2008 Staples High School and 2012 Pepperdine University graduate, now the West Coast editor for Vanity Fair — has a great story in the May edition.
In “Suddenly, Stephanie Hsu is Everywhere,” the actress talks about her intense year, her love for Jamie Lee Curtis, and how her next movie, “Joy Ride,” defies stereotypes. Click here to read. (Hat tip: John Karrel)
Speaking of film: Generations of Westporters have thrilled to enormous, all-around movies at the Norwalk IMAX Theater.
Mountain climbers, deep sea divers, rock concerts — we’ve seen it all.
The building is being dismantled. It’s part of the state Department of Transportation’s reconstruction of the 123-year-old Norwalk River railroad span (the “Walk Bridge”).
A new 4D theater, built on the other side of the Maritime Aquarium, opened in 2021.
(Photo and hat tip: Whitmal Cooper)
Patti Brill’s peonies make a perfect “Westport … Naturally” picture.
And finally … as the Parks & Recreation Commission debates a port-a-potty at Old Mill Beach (story above) — it’s not our usual song. But besides all the music at Woodstock, there was this:
Last week’s Friday Flashback showed Ken Montgomery’s Old Mill store — one of several predecessors of the current Old Mill Grocery & Deli.
It had been his mother’s market. He joined her, after his original place — on the corner of Bridge Street and Compo Road South — was demolished, to make way for the new Connecticut Turnpike (now called I-95).
I’d never seen a photo of it. Then, just days after that Friday Flashback, Pamela Docters posted an old Westport Town Crier newspaper clipping on Facebook:
As the caption notes, Ken wanted to move the “retail landmark” to property he owned opposite the old Saugatuck Elementary School (now The Saugatuck co-op housing complex). His request was denied.
The caption also says that he hoped to return with a new store once the highway was finished.
That never happened. But the Old Mill store was good to him.
And Ken was good to his town. When he died, he left a $500,000 gift to the Westport YMCA.
Pamela posted a couple of other fascinating doomed-by-the-thruway photos.
This one, from June 7, 1956, shows houses moved to Dr. Gillette Circle.
Dr. Gillette Circle is off Davenport Avenue, which itself is accessed by Ferry Lane West off Saugatuck Avenue — adjacent to I-95 Exit 17.
Indian Hill Road — also part of the neighborhood — is now sliced in two by the highway. It once connected, all the way north to Treadwell Avenue.
Dr. Gillette Circle is once again buffeted by change. The 157-unit Summit Saugatuck development is a few yards away, on Hiawatha Lane Extension.
As for I-95, recent state Department of Transportation work has radically altered the landscape first created when the turnpike was built. It took 70 years for trees and vegetation to grow. Now it’s all gone.
Of course, as thruway construction took place Saugatuck was not the only neighborhood affected. Another photo posted by Pam shows a Greens Farms home — already 125 years old — being moved 700 feet away from the new route’s right-of-way, to Turkey Hill South.
The Connecticut Turnpike cut a wide swath through Westport. It changed Saugatuck forever, and made an enormous impact everywhere else.
Three-quarters of a century later, most of us cannot imagine life here without it.
But there are still Westporters, and former residents, alive who do.
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