Tag Archives: train station

Finding Friendship, Without A Phone

Jerry Footlick is a newcomer to Westport. At the urging of his daughters Robbyn (who lives here) and Jill (who lives nearby), he moved here from North Carolina after his wife died. 

The other day, he had a “Westport experience.” He wanted to share it with “06880” readers, in his new home. It’s a great story. Thanks — and welcome, Jerry!

A few evenings ago I attended an event in Manhattan. As I boarded the train back, I found that I had carelessly allowed my phone battery to go dead. The conductor shrugged, and chose to believe I really had a ticket hidden on that phone.

When I got off the train in Westport, I realized I had no way to call a taxi, an Uber, or my daughter.

No taxis in sight. But the tale has a happy ending.

In the parking lot, I asked a likely-looking gentleman where I might find a taxi. You’re on the wrong side, he said. After I had walked under the tracks, I discovered that all the bars and restaurants, where I might have called a taxi, were closed,

My plan, such as it was, was to hope for the arrival of a taxi or a police cruiser. Then the gentleman who had guided me pulled up; he had driven his car around to where I was standing.

“Where are you going?” he asked. I told him. He said, “I live near there. Hop in!” He trusted me. I trusted him.

I noted his British accent. He said he had been raised in London, and his name was Simon. I said I had a son-in-law who lives in Westport, had been raised in London, and whose name was Simon.

I said I had spent a fellowship year in London at the London School of Economics. He said he attended the LSE.

He said he had had a flat in Richmond, which led us to “Ted Lasso,” its real-life pub, and its real-life restaurant. As we arrived at my residence, he said he had a friend living there and to give her his love (I did).

By that time we seemed like old pals.

I don’t know if I was just lucky, or if Westport is really a friendly town.

Roundup: Rotary; Reactive Attachment Disorder; Rocks; More

A little pandemic can’t keep Westport’s Sunrise Rotary club down.

Every April, they do a volunteer clean-up in town. The lockdown postponed this year’s event. But yesterday the members were out in force, ridding the I-95 Exit 17 parking lot of trash.

It was just like old times. Except for the masks.

Westporters have been intrigued by a Ford Escort at the train station.

During the pandemic it sat for weeks in the same spot. Last week it finally vanished. Some folks were pleased because it seemed the driver was okay; others wondered if the car had been towed, because the driver was not okay.

Well, the Ford is back. But now I’ve got another question:

There are hundreds of empty spots in the lot. Why does he (or she) choose such a random place to park?

(Photo/Curtis Lueker)

Bridgewater got Paul Podolsky to Westport. The 1991 Brown University grad  liked the town so much, he moved here.

Five weeks ago — after more than 20 years with the firm — he retired. His goal is to write full time. Judging by his memoir — released today — he’s got another great career.

Raising a Thief is the powerful, insightful and searingly truthful story of the orphan girl Podolsky and his wife adopted from Russia. They imagined she’d blend in well with their son, and enjoy all the wonders of Westport.

But she suffered from Reactive Attachment Disorder — a condition in which a child who has suffered physical or emotional neglect or abuse cannot form a healthy emotional bond with new parents.

Sonya lies and steals. She has an eating disorder, and tries to jump out of a window.

It’s a difficult story to read. It must have been even harder to live through — and then write.

Yet, Podolsky notes, Bridgewater helped. “The culture is all about radical honesty. I was accustomed to that.”

Founder Ray Dallio says of the book: “I am passionage about understanding how people think, and why … This book offers an invaluable picture about how the earliest childhood experiences shape thinking. I recommend it for all parents.”

Podolsky’s wife became a therapist, and now treats struggling families. They — and anyone with an interest in the human condition — will appreciated Raising a Thief. 

As for Podolsky, his next book is fiction. It’s based on his work in international finance, specifically China and Russia.

For more information and to buy Raising a Thief, click here.

Paul Podolsky

They’re the gifts that keep on giving.

From the earliest days of the coronavirus, stones bearing uplifting messages have been spotted around town.

They’re at Grace Salmon Park. Outisde the police station. On Burying Hill Beach.

Yesterday, Lauri Weiser spotted this particularly pretty one. Rock on, Westport!

And finally … summer arrived yesterday. Of the squintillion summer songs, this Gershwin tune — and this Billy Stewart version — stands at the top.

Pics Of The Day #1066

Westport copes with the coronavirus …

Solitude at Grace Salmon Park (Photo/Jo Shields)

Empty parking lots on a weekday downtown … (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)

… at the train station, and on I-95 (Drone photo/Patrick Sikes)

The message has gotten through. Teenagers stay in their cars, practicing social distancing — but hang out together at Longshore. 

A mid-March late afternoon dip at Old Mill Beach (Photo/Robin Tauck)

Lindsay Blaivas, her daughter Kenzie and dog Ruby went for a neighborhood walk. Along the way, they left some messages. “Getting creative and staying connected!” Lindsay says.  Here’s one.

Two weeks ago, you’d say “huh?” Now you say, “Where’d you get it?!” (Photo/Darcy Hicks)

Santa Claus comes early to Stop & Shop (Photo/Chip Stephens)

Friday Flashback #39

A year after it was published in 1955, “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” became a major motion picture.

Gregory Peck starred as Tom Rath. He and his wife Betsy (Jennifer Jones) live in a rundown house in Westport. They have 3 kids; he commutes to an unfulfilling job in New York. The title quickly became a ’50s metaphor — one that endures today.

Some of the movie was filmed in Westport. The most memorable scenes — still recalled here more than 60 years later — took place on Main Street, and at the train station.

These 2 shots show Peck as a typical commuter. Besides the lack of a platform — and the demise of the New Haven Railroad — what else has changed? Click “Comments” below.

Blizzard of 2016: Late Afternoon Report

We’ve still got a few more hours of this. So put another log on the fire, open up one more bottle of wine, and enjoy these wonderful views of Westport in winter. (Click on or hover over to enlarge)

Snow bunny #1...

Snow bunny #1…

...snow bunny #2...

…snow bunny #2…

...and #3. (Photos above/Irene Penny)

…and #3. (Photos above/Irene Penny)

...and another. (Photos/John Videler)

One view from John Videler…

One view from John Videler...

…and another, with a bit of color from the flag. (Photo/John Videler)

Compo Beach, from the (relative) comfort of a Soundview Drive home. (Photo/Betsy P. Kahn)

Compo Beach, from the (relative) comfort of a Soundview Drive home. (Photo/Betsy P. Kahn)

No picnics today on South Beach! (Photo/Briana Walegir)

No picnics today on South Beach! (Photo/Briana Walegir)

You know that old saying about "neither snow nor rain..."? (Photo/Fred Cantor)

You know that old saying about “neither snow nor rain…”? (Photo/Fred Cantor)

No word from Metro-North on whether (weather?) there was "Good Service" today. (Photo/Fred Cantor)

No word from Metro-North on whether (weather?) there was “Good Service” today. (Photo/Fred Cantor)

It was slow going -- just as the sign says -- on Saugatuck Shores today. (Photo/Gene Borio)

It was slow going — just as the sign says — on Saugatuck Shores today. (Photo/Gene Borio)

A serene scene on Highland Road. Look closely though: That's an unplowed driveway there at the bottom of the photo. (Photo/Ellen Wentworth)

A serene scene on Highland Road. Look closely though: That’s an unplowed driveway at the bottom of the photo. (Photo/Ellen Wentworth)

Blizzard bonus feature: Seagulls were out surfing at Compo. Thanks to Dee Dee Scanlin, Chip Stephens and Betsy Pollak for sharing!


The Way We Were

For some reason, people have started emailing me great photos of the Westport of yore.

I know plenty of “06880” readers like them. Longtime residents, expats, even recent arrivals appreciate seeing where what’s changed in our town — and what hasn’t. (Click on or hover over any photo to enlarge it.)

So, without further ado:

A dealer called simply “Foreign Cars” did business on the Post Road near the Southport line, just past Barker’s (or, as we know it today, Super Stop & Shop).

Foreign cars - 1950s - Post Road
This looks familiar: near the train station. In the 1950s, it was Frank Reber and Charlie Cole’s Imported Cars. This photo, and the one above, came from Hemmings Daily, thanks to David Pettee.

Frank Reber and Charlie Coles Imported Cars

A few years earlier, this was the scene around the corner, at the train station. There’s Black Horse Liquors on the corner. The newsstand was Baer’s.

Train station 1950s - courtesy Debbie Rosenfield
Here’s the eastbound view. Both photos are courtesy of Debbie Rosenfield.

Train station 1950s eastbound - courtesy Debbie Rosenfield
This 1949 view of downtown comes (as do all the photos below it) from the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut, via Brian Pettee. Colgan’s Pharmacy was where Tiffany sits today. Across Taylor Place was the trolley-shaped diner. Opposite that — hidden by trees — was the small park behind the old Westport Library. And that car in the middle of the intersection? It was turning onto the Post Road from Main Street, which had 2-way traffic.

Downtown 1948 - copyright Thomas J. Dodd Research Center UConn
Main Street Mobil occupied the current site of Vineyard Vines. In the distance you can see what for many years was Westport Pizzeria.

Main Street Mobil station 1949 - copyright Thomas J Dodd Research Center UConn
Back when the Merritt Parkway was for motoring, this was the signage (watch out for those jagged edges!).

Merritt Parkway exit 41 sign - 1949 - copyright Thomas J Dodd Research Center UConn
And when you came off Exit 41, this is what you saw. Underneath the “Westport” arrow, the sign says “State Police 3 mi.” The barracks were located on the Post Road where Walgreens is now — opposite the diner. Pretty close to I-95 — though in 1949, the “Connecticut Turnpike” had not yet been built.

Merritt Parkway exit 41 - 1949 - copyright Thomas J Dodd Research Center UConn