It’s a tradition for “06880” to run Westport artist Stevan Dohanos’ Saturday Evening Post 2 famous Thanksgiving illustrations. Both used Westport models (including the former “gingerbread house” on Long Lots Road):
Today, we’re adding a third from Dohanos. (Though the turkey was probably for Christmas.)
This was not a cover. As the caption (“Here they come, Mom! And Jim won need the wishbone — they’ve got their Plymouth!”) suggests, it was an advertisement.
Still, it’s an evocative illustration. You can almost smell the turkey.
And the seats in the brand-new Plymouth. (Hat tip: Anthony Dohanos)
Meanwhile, Fire Marshal Terrence Dunn notes that many offices and businesses will soon have Christmas trees and holiday decorations. These can pose a serious safety risk.
Natural trees with a root ball attached pose a less significant fire hazard than a cut tree, which dries out faster. Artificial trees and decorations should be flame retardant or flame resistive. Decorations should not block exits.
Dunn says, “All lighting should be turned off, or better yet disconnected, when the area is unattended. This is especially important in residential occupancies when the occupants are asleep. Make sure the tree is not situated near open flames, and that it does obstruct any fire doors.”
Yesterday, “06880” reported on Ryan “Shoeless” Smith. The Bates College men’s cross country captain lost a shoe in the first mile of the 8K NCAA East Division Regional Championship. He still finished 11th — out of more than 200 runners — and qualified for the NCAA Division III Championships.
That race was last weekend, at Michigan State University. Ryan kept his shoes on — fortunate, considering the snowy, 25-degree weather — and finished 59th out of 294 competitors. His 25:49.5 time over 8K was the best on his team.
He was not the only former Staples cross country runner there. Nick Taubenheim (SHS ’20) finished 146th for Claremont-Mudd Scripps (26:18.9), while Luke Lorenz (SHS ’19) took 179th for Middlebury College (26:29.9).
Sure, it’s Thanksgiving. But pumpkins are still hanging around.
And — as Pam Kesselman points out, with today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo: “Someone was hungry.”
Connecticut’s Department of Transportation begins work next year on several local crosswalks — including the notorious “worst intersection in the state” (Routes 1 and 33, aka Post Road West, Riverside Avenue and Wilton Road).
The DOT will also work on:
Route 33 (Wilton Road) at Merritt Parkway Connector and Spring Hill Road
Route 57 (Weston Road) at Broad Street and Good Hill Road (Weston)
Route 33 (Saugatuck Avenue) at I-95 southbound ramps
Route 1 (Post Road East) at Playhouse Square Shopping Center
Route 1 (Post Road West) at Sylvan Road
Route 1 (Post Road East) at Turkey Hill Roads North and South
Sherwood Island Connector at Greens Farms Road and Post Road East.
The good news: Upgrades include countdown pedestrian indicators, accessible pedestrian push buttons, and “concurrent pedestrian phasing.”
The bad news: There are no actual traffic, sightline or other improvements.
The timetable: Design plans are expected to be completed in February, with advertising for construction in April.
They quickly replied: “Thank you for your inquiry concerning spotted lanternfly. The insect you have photographed is indeed a SLF. Your town is already known to be infested. For tips on dealing with SLF, please click here. Should you find any more insects, please kill them immediately with any means at your disposal. Thank you again for your interest.”
Speaking of the environment: Tickets are on sale now for Earthplace’s famed Woodside Bash fundraiser. It’s October 1 (7 p.m.), under the stars and beside a firepit.
Though it’s adults-only, kids are welcome the following day (October 2, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.), for the also-annual Fall Festival. Earthplace buzzes with a corn pool, obstacle course, climbing wall, food trucks and more. Click here for tickets.
Speaking of posters: Yesterday’s music memories from Woodstock — the “lotta freaks!” festival that ended 53 years ago (!) today — brought an email from longtime Westporter Matt Murray.
Plus this photo:
“This is an original. I worked for the guys who started and funded the concert (Joel Roseman and the late John Roberts). They were partners in the NYC recording studio, Mediasound.
“I was an assistant engineer and gopher (go for this, go for that). Another guy and I saw a stack of these in their office. We asked if we could have a few. Sure!
“Still have ’em, 47 years later.”
Matt adds: “For the studio’s Christmas party, leftover Woodstock tickets were used as bar chits. Being youthful, I used mine for drinks. The bartender tore them in half. A fellow worker thought better of that idea, and hung on to his tickets. Smart person.”
The longtime Westport photographer says that once, in Capasse’s law office, they discussed a replica of the painting, which hung on the wall.
Capasse told Matlow that he did not actually play the trumpet. He was a clarinetist. But Dohanos thought a clarinet was too hard or time-consuming to draw — so Capasse ended up with the brass instrument.
Now, can anyone answer this question: How did Capasse play in the marching band and on the football team, simultaneously?
Ed Capasse, in the 1948 Staples High School yearbook.
The other 3 finalists — selected through a worldwide audition — earned $2,500 each.
Directed by noted Westport native Alexander Platt, the competition is in its 50th year. It includes master classes, lectures, and performances. The jury chair was internationally famed — and Westport resident Frederic Chiu.
A celebration of the Heida, featuring alumni finalists, is set for November 19 at MoCA Westport. Click here for tickets, and more information.
Alexander Platt (far left) with 2022 Heida Hermanns finalists (from left): Nathan Cheung, Katharine Bensen, Aaron Kurz and winner Artem Kuznetsov.
Meanwhile, when the competition was over, a young pianist — perhaps a future Heida Hermanns Competition winner — tried out MoCA’s magnificent Steinway.
“Friday’s knife attack on author Salmon Rushdie brought some thoughts to mind.
“One is that, while violence has become an unfortunate norm in our country, it seems so incomprehensible and despicable that physical violence is inflicted on a writer. The ‘fatwa’ or death decree issued by the Ayatollah Khomeini was in 1989 — long before the perpetrator was born. That books and cartoons and art should inflame self-appointed religious zealots to violence is beyond disturbing.
“I recall hearing Rushdie speak at Staples High School in 2015. It was memorable for the intense security surrounding the event. One passed through a checkpoint like at an airport. Purses were inspected. Backpacks were not allowed at all into the building, presumably to stop a makeshift bomb. Some parents objected, but in the end, it was great exercise in free speech and example to students.
“The Westport speech was riveting. Rushdie was well-spoken and erudite, and had a surprisingly sharp and witty sense of humor. He is a product of upper echelon British schools, and his language reflected that.
“In retrospect, I am thankful that so much security was in place in Westport. Sadly, protection must be provided, not only for politicians but for artists and writers who speak bravely.
For more on Rushdie’s Westport appearance, click here.
Yes, it’s capitalized. Food Rescue US is an app that actually makes you want to look at your phone.
The idea is spectacularly simple. Food services — grocery stores, restaurants, caterers, companies — register. When they have extra food — at the end of the day, after an event, whatever — they post it online.
Individuals register too. They check the app when it’s convenient. If they see someplace nearby, they agree to pick it up.
Then they deliver it to social service agencies — soup kitchens, shelters, veterans facilities, etc. — that have also registered with Food Rescue US.
Magnus reminds “06880” readers: “There are lots of people less fortunate, and also lots of food waste. Yesterday, Lavinia and I brought generous donations from Whole Foods (thanks, Siobhan!) to an agency in Bridgeport. They’ll distribute it in the community.”
Most of the Paul Newman news this year has been about “The Last Movie Stars”: the HBO 6-part series on the longtime Westport actor and his wife, Joanne Woodward.
This one is about his cars.
When he got into auto racing, Newman was as successful as with acting (and, later, philanthropy). He and Carl Haas formed a team with drivers like Mario and Michael Andretti. They racked up 108 Indycar wins,
In October, those cars — and other Newman/Haas items — will be auctioned off in 78 lots, by RM Sotheby’s. Click here for details.
During the 1960s and ’70s though — when hitchhiking around town was a thing — countless Westporters knew Paul Newman as the driver who would always pick them up.
His car back then was a Volvo or VW. “Hop in, son!” he’d say.
And off we went.
(Hat tip: Chris Grimm)
Pual Newman (left) with his friend, the late Westporter Michael Brockman.
Homes with Hope’s 15th annual Stand Up event — a comedy fundraiser for the multi-service housing and food provider — is set for Fairfield University’s Quick Center. It’s the first time live since COVID struck.
The headliner is Pat McGann. He’s a veteran of Madison Square Garden, David Letterman and Stephen Colbert.
Longtime Westport dentist Dr. Victor Oliver died earlier this year. He was 83.
He graduated from Providence College, then studied dentistry at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He served as a dentist in the Air Force in Albany, Georgia for two years.
Following his service, Victor and his wife Pauline settled in Westport. He opened a home dental office in 1968, and practiced there for 50 years.
Victor was an avid tennis player. He and Polly loved vacationing in Florida, and weekend trips to Nantucket. His family says, “He will be remembered for his gentle dental care and his dedication to his patients. He was a kind and generous man who always made time to help anyone in need. He was known for being a quiet reserved man — unless you were sitting in his dental chair, where he was the most talkative, trying to make you at ease.”
Victor is survived by his wife of 59 years Pauline; daughters Kimberly (Jim) Vallieres of West Hartford, and Robin (Sean) Ross of Holly Springs, North Carolina, and grandchildren Sean Heintz, Emma Heintz, Olivia Heintz and her fiancé Jonathan Davis, Audrey Ross and Jack Ross.
Donations in Victor’s name came be made to the West Hartford Symphony Orchestra, PO Box 370036, West Hartford, CT 06137, where for many years he enjoyed watching his daughter Kim play violin.
Dr. Victor Oliver
Many “Westport … Naturally” photos show living things that fly, buzz, bite, crawl, bark, meow or do similar things.
Some show blooms and buds.
This one just sits there. It’s majestic — and often overlooked. But it’s an anchor of downtown, and as much a part of our natural world as any other creature or plant.
And finally … Bill Pitman died earlier this week, in California. He was 102.
You don’t know his name. But you know his music.
For decades, he was a session musician. As part of the Wrecking Crew — a “loosely organized corps of peerless Los Angeles freelancers who were in constant demand by record producers to back up headline performers … (an ensemble that )turned routine recording sessions and live performances into extraordinary musical moments” — he backed up the Beach Boys, Sonny and Cher, Monkees, Mamas and the Papas, Simon and Garfunkel, Ricky Nelson, Jan and Dean, Johnny Rivers, the Byrds, Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett, the Everly Brothers, Peggy Lee and “nearly every prominent performer of the era.”
Pitman’s work ranged from “Strangers in the Night” and “The Way We Were” to “Be My Baby,” “Good Vibrations” and “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head.”
He also worked on TV and film scores, cartoon soundtracks — you name it.
Click here for Bill Pitman’s very intriguing obituary.
In his 91 years, the lifelong Westporter touched many lives. He was a Board of Finance chair, an active volunteer with the Westport Weston Family Y and Assumption Church, and a scrupulously fair, generous attorney.
He made his mark locally, for sure. But for one week in 1946, Ed’s face was seen in nearly every American home.
A few weeks earlier, Westport artist Stevan Dohanos invited 5 students from the 40-member Staples High School band to model for a Saturday Evening Post cover. He wanted to show a marching band.
The 5 musicians posed individually in Dohanos’ home studio. Each one earned $30 — $400, in today’s money — to sit still for a half hour, while pretending to play brass instruments.
What made the cover special was that every band member looked not straight ahead, at the director, but off to the side — where the football game was taking place. That action was reflected in the tuba.
Ed Capasse was on the top left, playing his trumpet.
The Saturday Evening Post — for which Dohanos drew 125 covers — was one of the most popular magazines in America. That October 19, 1946 issue, smack in the middle of football season, ended up in millions of homes.
Years later, Donahos donated the oil painting to what is now the Westport Schools Permanent Art Collections. For decades, it hung in the Staples band room. Then it moved to the principal’s office.
Former 1st Selectman Jim Marpe — a big Stevan Dohanos fan — commandeered it for his office. Later, it hung elsewhere in Town Hall.
Today it awaits a new location.
The work — called “The Band Played On” — gained new attention in 2001, when Staples Players staged “Music Man.” The poster showed 5 current actors, mimicking the painting.
Staples Players’ 2001 poster …
Fifteen years later, Players reprised the musical. Directors David Roth and Kerry Long redid the poster too.
… and the 2016 version.
Two years earlier, WestPAC had raised funds to restore the painting to its full brilliance. It was displayed proudly in the Staples auditorium, throughout the play’s run.
In 2016, theater-goers admired Stevan Dohanos’ painting in the Staples High School lobby.
For over three-quarters of a century, Dohanos’ work has been a part of Westport history.
Trumpet player Ed Capasse is gone now. But his — and Dohanos’ — band plays on.
Ed Capasse, in the 1948 Staples High School yearbook.
(Hat tip: Kathleen Motes Bennewitz)
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There was no better illustrator of Westport life than Stevan Dohanos.
And there’s no better time to look back at one of his many Saturday Evening Post works — one that showed our town off to a national audience — than today, a week before Christmas.
The piece is “Christmas in Westport.”
Using a mundane scene — postal carriers (“postmen,” we called them then) heading out to deliver cards and packages, in the snow — he showed both the hard work and joy of the holidays.
If the setting looks familiar: It is. From the 1930s through ’90s, the building that is now Design Within Reach served as our real (non-rinky-dink) post office. The loading dock was on the east side, facing Bay Street — where the patio is today south side, facing the building across the Post Road.
Dohanos — a longtime Westporter who designed not only magazine covers but postage stamps, World War II patriotic posters and more — used artistic license to move the Saugatuck Congregational Church across the street.
No problem. Our postmen knew exactly where to find it — and every other customer on their route.
Newcomers may have heard that Westport was once an “artists’ colony.”
Oldtimers remember the Famous Artists School on Wilton Road (just north of Bartaco — click here).
For a while, magazine ads and matchbook covers all over the world invited aspiring artists to learn from Famous Artists School masters.
They did not exactly “teach.” They lent their names to the enterprise. But they were quite an accomplished (and very male) bunch.
Anthony Dohanos sent along a great photo. His father — Stevan Dohanos, the famed Saturday Evening Post and US postage stamp illustrator — sits prominently on a rock at the front left, wearing plaid pants.
Norman Rockwell puffs his trademark pipe in the row behind, near the right.
Sitting in the front row on the right is Rod Serling. He was, I guess, part of the auxiliary Famous Writers’ School. (There was also a Famous Photographers’ School).
How many of these men (and 2 women) can you identify? Click “Comments” below — and add any memories you have of the years when the Famous Schools made Westport famous.
Stevan Dohanos designed 40 US postage stamps. His works hang in the Whitney, and many other prestigious museums.
But perhaps his greatest fame came from over 100 Saturday Evening Post covers. Many depict scenes from Westport, where he lived starting in the 1940s. He used many local models.
Some of those folks may still be around. If so, they probably remember frolicking at Compo Beach, for Dohanos’ July 31, 1954 cover.
If so, they should find out when “Antiques Roadshow” airs on their local PBS station. (It’s already been on Channel 13 in New York.) The current episode includes Peter M. Fairbanks’ appraisal of the original painting.
His verdict: It should be insured for $40,000.
PS: No, Dohanos did not make that raft up. Back in the day, several were anchored off Compo. They were popular spots for diving, tanning and hanging out.
In 1976, Westport artists honored America’s bicentennial with a special calendar.
Howard Munce, Hardie Gramatky, Randy Enos, Al Willmott, Ward Brackett, Stevan Dohanos and others contributed sketches of Old Mill Beach, the Compo cannons, old Town Hall, the railroad station, even the revered Minnybus.
Proceeds helped fund Bicentennial events in town, and the purchase of artwork for the Bicentennial art collection.
Hardie Gramatky’s illustration of Old Mill, for the 1976 Bicentennial calendar. The original is being donated by his daughter, Linda Gramatky Smith, to the Westport Public Art Collection.
Inspired by that project, the Long Lots PTA launched a Westport Schools Calendar in the early 1980s. Student artists submitted work. Filled with dates of key school and district activities, it quickly became a major fundraiser.
In 2018 we’re a lot closer to the Sestercentennial than the Bicentennial. But the Westport Schools Calendar is stronger than ever.
In 2015, the LLS PTA handed the project over to Friends of Westport Public Art Collection. Proceeds now support the amazing collection that hangs in every school, and many town buildings.
This year, over 200 local students — from kindergarten through 12th grade — submitted art for the calendar. A committee chose a colorful image by Greens Farms Elementary School 1st grader Jack Steel for the cover. GFS 4th grader Kasey Feeley’s homage to the district as a thank-you to teachers graces the inside cover
Jack Steel’s 2018 cover art .
Each of the 13 months features wonderful student work — in full color.
The young artists were inspired by their schools, sports teams, activities and nature. Like their professional predecessors in 1976, their images relate powerfully to Westport.
“In an era when we all keep our calendars on electronic devices, the Westport Schools Calendar is a wonderful throwback,” says 1st Selectman Jim Marpe.
“You can see a whole month’s events spread out in front of you, accompanied by fun student art.”
Marpe’s daughter graduated from Staples years ago. But he still uses the calendar to keep up with school events.
Staples High student Will Roschen’s image of his building is the March illustration.
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